New pope will correct church's 'serious problems,' Cardinal Wuerl believes
By Betsy Hiel
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
ROME – Cardinal Donald Wuerl praised Pope Francis as “unpretentious” and predicted he will correct “serious problems” in the Roman Catholic Church.
Wuerl — a Pittsburgh native and the city's bishop for 18 years before being appointed cardinal of Washington in 2006 — spoke on Thursday at the Vatican's Pontifical North American College, where American cardinals reside while in Rome.
He appeared buoyed and excited by the selection a day earlier of the first Jesuit, first non-European pontiff in almost 1,300 years.
“I think we are going to find that he has a reputation, while being a good pastor of souls, of also staying on top of what is happening in the church,” Wuerl, 72, said.
He said the pope will receive a report on Vatican scandals commissioned by his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. “He'll have to take a look and see what needs to be done. I don't have any concern that he is going to hesitate to do what needs to be done,” Wuerl said.
In recent days, many Catholics of all ages and nationalities waiting for the papal announcement in St. Peter's Square have said the next pope must reform the scandal-ridden Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Curia, and address sex abuse and other scandals.
Wuerl said he worked with Pope Francis in the past and described him as “mild-mannered, soft-spoken, but very clear in this thought.” He said the informality displayed in the past two days by the former cardinal of Buenos Aires “seems to be the hallmark of his style.”
He recounted that the pope declined a new, more elaborate cross while putting on papal garments for the first time, asking: “Why can't I wear the cross that I always wear?”
After being introduced to the thousands of people filling St. Peter's Square, Wuerl said, Francis stepped back inside the Sistine Chapel to eat dinner with the cardinals who elected him hours earlier. He described it as “so simple and so unpretentious.”
“I think he is the perfect choice for this moment in time,” the American cardinal said.
Wuerl clearly was moved by Wednesday's ceremony, describing the excitement of stepping onto the balcony with other cardinals to “see this huge ocean of people” waiting for a first glimpse of the pope.
“The whole square was filled, going down the Via della Conciliazione,” he said, referring to the main street into St. Peter's Square. He saw “a continuous blinking of lights” as hundreds of cameras and cell phones recorded the historic moment.
Wuerl said the pope will encourage people “to take a look all over again at the Gospels.
“There is a firmness of faith and a gentleness with the people,” he said. “And isn't that what we look for in a Catholic bishop?”
Insisting that “the message is the same” even if “the style changes” with each papacy, Wuerl predicted that Francis will promote the church's positions on social justice, the environment, the ethics of new technologies and the right to life.
“We will always be defending marriage and family,” he said. “They are the bedrock, foundational stones of human culture.”
Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor apparently staying
- NFL notebook: Jets cut former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes
- NHL notebook: GMs discuss possible changes to overtime
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Harper hires another attorney to handle request to reduce sentence
- White House advises teaching students about money
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals
- Fear of building collapse closes Tarentum road
- Pirates notebook: Martin finding power stroke
- Senate OKs bill scrapping ‘good soldier defense’
- Penn State’s Franklin cherishes memories of time spent in Pittsburgh