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Italy's media dub Wuerl 'pope-maker' of conclave

| Friday, March 15, 2013, 6:50 p.m.

Italy's media are describing Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington as the “pope-maker” of this week's conclave that elected the first non-European pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church in many years.

Wuerl, 72, — a Pittsburgh native and bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh for 18 years before he was named cardinal for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2006 — could not be reached for comment. The reports about Wuerl's role in the conclave could not be independently confirmed by the Tribune-Review.

La Repubblica, Italy's largest-circulation daily newspaper, reported on Friday that Wuerl led a coalition of American cardinals and those from other countries in supporting the candidacy of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina.

Bergoglio was elected the 266th pope of the worldwide church on Wednesday and took the name of Francis.

The center-left newspaper and two Italian websites said American cardinals, “under the leadership” of Wuerl, considered Bergoglio “the right man to ‘purify and reform' the church and the Roman Curia.”

The Curia, or Vatican bureaucracy, has been beset by financial and other scandals for years. Before resigning as pope, Benedict XVI reportedly initiated an investigation of the Curia and other Vatican matters and directed that the findings be handed over to his successor.

One of the two Italian websites, Giornalettismo, referred to Wuerl as the “main Bergoglio pope-maker.”

Church officials and experts in the United States were unfamiliar with the reports and declined to speculate on their accuracy.

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