Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl

Birthday: 12 November 1940

Bachelor’s in Philosophy – Theological College, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Master’s in Philosophy- Theological College, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Master’s in Theology – Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy
Doctorate in Theology – Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy

Ordination: 17 December 1966
Episcopate: 6 January 1996
Cardinal: 20 November 2010

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl on the Issues

Viganò testimony

Does not support Archbishop Viganò
  • Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington was accepted by Pope Francis on October 12th. In an interview with America magazine’s Vatican correspondent released the same day, Wuerl was quoted a saying Archbishop Vigno’s testimony “is not faithful to the facts.” (LifeSiteNews)
  • Cardinal Wuerl has been at the center of sex abuse allegations in the United States ever since the Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania released a 900 page report alleging that Wuerl covered up and failed to properly handle sex abuse claims against priests while he served as Bishop of Pittsburgh. Wuerl contested the claims but the state’s attorney general stood by the veracity of the allegations. Wuerl eventually cancelled a speech he was to give at the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Ireland due to enormous outcry among Catholics. (LifeSiteNews)
  • Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the US, alleged in an explosive 11-page testimony that Wuerl knew about the sex abuse of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and that he covered up for him. Vigano says Wuerl “lies shamelessly” and that he knew McCarrick was sanctioned by Pope Benedict. Wuerl allowed McCarrick to live in a Washington D.C. seminary as well, thus endangering seminarians. (LifeSiteNews)

Amoris Laetitia

Permits Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics
  • Cardinal Wuerl’s diocesan guidelines for Amoris Laetitia are ambiguous on whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion. The guidelines urge priests to “respect” the “good faith” decisions made “in conscience” by lay Catholics regarding Communion. The guidelines do not explicitly require remarried Catholics to live chastely or to amend their lives before presenting themselves for Communion. (Catholic Herald)
  • In a 2017 interview with a liberal Catholic magazine, Wuerl implied the authors of the dubia were wrong to ask Pope Francis for clarity on Amoris Laetitia. In the interview, Cardinal Wuerl said he would “never, ever begin to challenge the voice of the Petrine Office.” Wuerl said once the Pope adds his name to an exhortation, it becomes part of the Papal magisterium. Wuerl also said Amoris Laetitia is marked by love and “not the rigid following of the letter of the law.” (LifeSiteNews)
  • Cardinal Wuerl’s diocesan website recommends visitors read Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s understanding of Amoris Laetitia. Schönborn said during a press conference in 2016 that the Eucharist is “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” implying that he does favor in some circumstances communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. (LifeSiteNews)
  • Cardinal Wuerl referred to Cardinal Raymond Burke as a “dissenter” after Burke gave an interview in 2015 saying he would not obey Pope Francis if he changed Church teaching on communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. Wuerl said all bishops who “dissent” from Pope Francis’s teaching do so because Francis “does not agree with them.” (LifeSiteNews)
  • In between sessions at the 2014 Synod on the Family in Rome, Cardinal Wuerl told Catholic News Service that the reception of Holy Communion is a pastoral, and not a doctrinal, practice. He seemed to lament the possibility of what he called “repeat[ing] the practice of the past without any effort.” He also said the Church should see if “there is some awareness, openness, influence of the Spirit” on the Church’s teaching for remarried Catholics in order to “find a new direction today.” (Catholic News Service)
  • Cardinal Wuerl served as editor of a 1983 book titled “The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults.” On pages 514-515, the book re-asserts the Church’s teaching that persons in adulterous relationships are to abstain from Communion. “Those who have seriously disobeyed divine or ecclesiastical law by entering into an invalid marriage, and have perhaps committed many sins within that union, have a duty to return to grace as quickly as possible, and certainly to abstain from Holy Communion until they do so.” (Vox Cantoris)

Pro-life leadership

Not enough evidence collected on this issue
  • Cardinal Wuerl offered a plenary indulgence to Catholics attending the 2018 March for Life. (LifeSiteNews)
  • Cardinal Wuerl blasted abortion, euthanasia, and political correctness at a Mass for Life at Georgetown University the day after the school hosted a lecture by the CEO of Planned Parenthood in 2016. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away,” Wuerl said during his sermon. (LifeSiteNews)


Unclear if he upholds Church teaching on homosexuality
  • In 2016, Cardinal Wuerl defended the firing of a cantor at a parish in his diocese because the man was engaging in a same-sex “marriage.” Wuerl said the Catholic Church’s schools and parishes must uphold the faith and cannot allow such “counter-witness” to the truths of the Gospel to go on because to do so would have an “adverse effect” on the Church’s mission. (Cardinal Wuerl’s Blog)
  • In 2013, a homosexual couple tried to have a Catholic priest removed from George Washington University in Washington D.C. because the priest preached that abortion and homosexuality are sinful. Cardinal Wuerl supported the priest by saying mass on the school’s campus. During mass, Wuerl said he stands in “solidarity” with the priest. He said attempts to get the priest removed were “totalitarian.” (LifeSiteNews)
  • A parish priest in Maryland who denied communion to a woman who identified herself as a lesbian in 2012 was publicly rebuked by the Archdiocese of Washington. One auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese apologized to the woman. The Archdiocese said its policy is not to publicly reprimand a person who presents themselves for Communion. (LifeSiteNews)
  • In 2011, Cardinal Wuerl denounced a pro-homosexual “marriage” booklet released by a dissident homosexual Catholic group censured by the Vatican in 1999. Wuerl was chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine at the time. (LifeSiteNews)

Abortion politics

Does not uphold Church teaching on abortion politics
  • During an interview with Newsmax in 2016, Cardinal Wuerl said abortion is “the fundamental issue” of the 2016 election. (LifeSiteNews)
  • In 2009, canon lawyer Ed Peters called on Cardinal Wuerl to invoke Canon 915 and ban obstinately pro-abortion politician Nancy Pelosi from Holy Communion. Popular blogging priest Fr. Z also called on Wuerl to deny Pelosi the Eucharist as well. He did not listen to their advice. (LifeSiteNews)
  • Cardinal Wuerl told Politics Daily in 2009 that he would not deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politician Nancy Pelosi because historically “the Church just didn’t use Communion” as a “weapon.” (LifeSiteNews)


Faithful to Church teaching on contraception
  • In a blog post celebrating the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Cardinal Wuerl said that Humanae Vitae’s teachings on sexuality “is a sign of contradiction to the world.” Humanae Vitae is a “gift” but it is “wrongly disparaged as an out-of-touch authoritarian” document. In his essay, Wuerl approvingly quoted Cardinal Koral Wojtyla. “Conjugal love is enriched through the authentic giving of one person to another person. It is this mutual giving of self which must not be altered.” (Cardinal Wuerl’s Blog)
  • On February 16, 2012, Cardinal Wuerl wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post denouncing the Obama adminstration’s HHS mandate. Wuerl argued that the “accommodation” the Obama administration gave to religious employers didn’t go far enough, should come to an end, and is a threat to religious freedom. (The Washington Post)

“LGBT” ideology

Unclear where he stands on “LGBT” ideology
  • Radical pro-“LGBT” priest Fr. James Martin thanked Cardinal Wuerl for being “very supportive” of him during opening remarks at a lecture he gave at a liberal church in Washington D.C. in October 2017. Martin said Wuerl would have come to the talk but he was in Rome so he couldn’t make it. (LifeSiteNews)
  • Cardinal Wuerl invited pro-gay Vatican advisor Fr. James Martin to preach the homily during Good Friday services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington in 2017. Wuerl was the main celebrant of the mass. Martin is one of the foremost advocates in the church for changing Catholic teaching on “LGBT” issues. (LifeSiteNews)


Not enough evidence collected on this issue

Marriage and Family Life

Not enough evidence collected on this issue


Upholds Church teaching on education
  • Cardinal Wuerl said Notre Dame’s Baccalaureate Mass in May 2016 but did not stay for the commencement ceremonies the following day, when he was scheduled to be given an honorary degree and when pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden was awarded the school’s Laetare Medal, the school’s highest honor. (LifeSiteNews)
  • After a Georgetown student group invited Planned Parenthood’s CEO to speak on campus in April 2016, the D.C. Archdiocese issued a statement expressing displeasure with the decision, especially because of the CEO’s pro-abortion views. “The Jesuit community on campus clearly has its work cut out for it and a long way to go as it tries to instill at Georgetown some of the values of Pope Francis,” the statement read. (The Washington Post)
  • In March 2016, Wuerl wrote a blog titled “The Identity of Catholic Universities” calling Catholic institutions to be faithful to Church teaching. “Catholic university exists to provide not only an academically excellent education, but also a structured context where students can encounter and experience the transcendent truth and love of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. Wuerl also said that if the moral climate and “ethical texture” of a Catholic university is no different than any secular institution it loses its claim to distinctiveness. (Cardinal Wuerl’s Blog)
  • The Archdiocese of Washington D.C. issued a statement blasting Georgetown University for inviting pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to be the school’s commencement speaker in 2012. The Archdiocese said the school’s decision means it is not standing with U.S. Catholic bishops and is unmooring itself from its Catholic identity. (LifeSiteNews)