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Archdiocese takes down website defending Cardinal Wuerl’s handling of sex abuse

The Archdiocese of Washington has deleted the “Wuerl Report” website defending the cardinal’s handling of sex abuse cases in Pittsburgh.

The website was strongly criticised for striking the wrong tone after the release of a grand jury report detailing hundreds of sex abuse accusations against priests in Pennsylvania. Cardinal Wuerl was Bishop of Pittsburgh when some of cases happened, and the report condemns his handling of them.

Catholic writer Elizabeth Scalia, a prominent critic of the website, said: “This is the sort of action we usually see being taken by a Chairman of the Board, or a CEO, or a politician, and that’s very telling; it exposes a mindset that is geared toward management and administration, with a less-than-optimal pastoral sensibility on display. It’s all too much of the world.”

Later on Wednesday, the archdiocese deleted the website, saying it had become a “distraction”.

Ed McFadden, the archdiocese’s Communications Director, explained: “So a few days ago, I had the bright idea to build a webpage that would provide reporters and others with information about Cardinal Wuerl’s record in Pittsburgh.”

“We knew there would be criticism after the report was released, and rightly so, but we also wanted fair coverage, so the Archdiocese of Washington put up the page ‘Wuerl Record’ so that reporters – who have not covered the Cardinal or the Church before – would have the full picture,” he added.

“In hindsight, it was a mistake,” he said, “And the criticism leveled at me (though most folks didn’t know it was me) was fair.

“The page was a distraction and there are far bigger issues to be addressed than a webpage. So we took the page down, and posted some of the material on our media page on the ADW website.”