Pope Benedict elevated then-Archbishop Wuerl to the College of Cardinals in November 2010, shortly after Wuerl's 70th birthday.
However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote October 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States. However, the cardinal added, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past".
Before the meeting, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston responded to additional steps the Pope is taking to address the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church in the United States had already been shaken by the resignation of former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick in July.
The cardinal could have plausibly defended himself against charges of coverup and negligence, the pope wrote, yet chose not to do so.
And yet another wrote simply, "Yes, and you are cooperating with that devil".
"There are distortions and serious omissions in the grand jury report so that it incorrectly portrayed his record here".
"Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated, and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact, represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable", the statement continued.
Wuerl, who is 77, may have resigned, but he won't be disappearing from church leadership just yet. The website was quickly taken down.
Archbishop McCarrick is pictured in a 2001 photo in Washington in Washington.
After the cardinal made a trip to Rome in late August, media reports said that Pope Francis had instructed the cardinal to consult with Washington clergy about the best way forward for him and the archdiocese.
Shortly after becoming Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988, he established the first independent review board to evaluate and recommend actions in cases of abuse, a model later adopted nationally. Years later, according to the report, six more people alleged that they were sexually assaulted by O'Malley, in some cases after he had been reinstated.
In an interview, Wuerl said he would continue to live in Washington and that he expected to keep his positions in Vatican offices, including one that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops. His loyalty no doubt helps explain why Francis went out of his way today to shower Wuerl with praise, saying, among other things, he's putting "the good of the Church" above his own personal interests.
"After a review of the archives, I find that there are no documents signed by either pope in this regard, and there are no audience notes from my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, imposing on the retired archbishop the obligation to lead a quiet and private life with the weight normally reserved to canonical penalties", Ouellet wrote.
These "mistakes" were in actuality crimes, and Wuerl's name was mentioned 169 times in the Pennsylvania grand jury report published in August.