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Second US Cardinal withdraws from Dublin event following publication of abuse report

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, has pulled out of a keynote address in Dublin. Picture by Andrew Medichini, Associated Press
Paul Ainsworth

A CARDINAL who was criticised for his handling of child sexual abuse allegations has cancelled his attendance as a keynote speaker at an event ahead of the Pope's visit to the Republic.

Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, was due to speak at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin (WMoF) on Wednesday but withdrew following the publication of a report into sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the grand jury report names more than 300 clergymen accused of the sexual abuse of thousands of alleged victims in local parishes in the US state.

The report accuses the Archbishop of concealing the abuse by moving those involved to different clerical posts in Pennsylvania during his time as Bishop of Pittsburgh, from 1988 to 2006.

The report also claims that some of the clergymen accused of abuse remained in their parishes.

The publication of the report has led to widespread criticism of the Catholic Church in the US, and calls for Cardinal Wuerl to resign.

He was due to give a keynote address at Dublin’s RDS, titled ‘The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World’.

No official reason has been provided for the cancellation.

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The withdrawal of Cardinal Wuerl from events surrounding the Papal visit - in which Pope Francis is due to meet survivors of clerical sex abuse - follows the cancellation of a visit by the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

He was due to attend WMoF events and on Friday chair a discussion on Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults.

His cancellation came after abuse allegations at a Boston seminary and the Boston archdiocese said the matter required Cardinal O’Malley’s "personal attention and presence".

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, with her husband Martin (right) and her son Justin (second left) and his husband Fionan (left) during the Pride Parade in Dublin. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association

Former President Mary McAleese meanwhile has hit out at the forthcoming Pope Francis visit, condemning the World Meeting of Families event as a "right-wing rally".

On the topic of clerical abuse and the Pennsylvania grand jury report the 67 year-old Belfast native said she believed Pope Francis put the defence of the institution first as a result of his formation as a priest and as a Bishop.

"It's not only systemic, it was directed from central command and control, which is the Vatican," she said.

"It’s impossible to believe that all bishops acted equally negligently by coincidence."

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