D.C. Deacon Calls on Wuerl to Resign

One of my dearest friends is a married deacon in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. In his position, he attended to Cardinal Wuerl.

But after the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, he decided: No more.

After James wrote and delivered the letter attached below, we talked. He told me that telling Cardinal Wuerl was one thing. But the statement meant little if he didn’t let the survivors know how he felt.

So he’s letting me publish his letter on my blog.

As a side note: to date, he has received no response from the Cardinal. I told him he’s now a part of a very large club of wonderful, amazing people.

Please shower James with support and share this letter.



25 thoughts on “D.C. Deacon Calls on Wuerl to Resign

  1. In 1968, 8th graders at Blessed Sacrament School in Natrona Heights , PA., wrote Pittsburgh Bishop Leonard and Bishop Wright, [later to become Cardinal] that their pastor Fr.Walter Benz was stealing money from the church. Donald Wuerl was personal secretary to Wrigth a suspected pedophile from 1969- 1979 [ Paul Williams in the book, The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church writes of Cardinal Wrigth’s pedopillia]. On his death bed Benz 30 years later admitted stealing millions of dollars from the church. Benz went into the hospital for cancer surgery and was found dead with all his life support systems disconnected. The letters from the children were never answered.
    In approximately 1970, the same students began sending several letters to Leonard and Wrigth with Donald Wuerl as Wright not only about Benz but also about his protégé Fr. David Dzermenjko. Students wrote that they were concerned about Dzermenjko’s drug use, his apparent mental illness and his sexual attraction to young boys. Dzermenjko sexually abused children for the next 30 years. The letters from the children and young adults were never answered.
    Donald Wuerl had access to this info as early as 1969, and later when Wuerl became bishop of Pittsburgh. Wuerl did not act as bishop of Pittsburgh until the F.B.I. became involved in both Benz’s and Dzermenjko’s cases and the public learnt of the activities of these priests. The recent Pennsylvanian Grand Jury report outlines the sexual activity of Dzermenjko.
    If Wuerl cannot hear the voices of children and young adults he cannot hear the voice of God. Thirty years of Benz stealing millions of dollars from the Catholic Church and Dzermenjko’s sexual abuse of children could have and should have stopped when Wrigth, Leonard and Wuerl first received these letters. Wuerl is seeking the recognition of retirement’s gold watch for a job well done, but Wuerl merits a mill stone.
    What would have been the outcome, had it been possible if the children and young adults wrote the Catholic Deacon, trial lawyer and U.S. Justice Department lawyer James Conrad Gracia of these matters, now fifty years ago instead of the mail to Bishop Leonard, Cardinal Wright or Fr. Donald Wuerl who now is Cardinal Wuerl.

  2. I feel so proud of Deacon James! We felt very thankful to have been assigned to him for our marriage preparation course. He guided us with love and patience, we couldn’t have been more lucky. Now, that our faith has been trembling due to current events, his actions give us hope and strength. Hope of a better future for the Catholic church, based on the possibility of bringing only honest, transparent and loving leaders that follow Jesus’s teachings with actions, like Deacon James. Strength to maintain our faith in the Catholic Church. Today we feel honored to have him in our lives, we feel honored to have been able to meet such an amazing person. We know this must have not been an easy decision for him but we support him one hundred percent and our prayers are with him. We also believe that this horrible turmoil requires transparency and accountability from the leaders of the Catholic Church and those who silenced to these horrible crimes must be held responsible.

  3. The restoration of the permanent diaconate was forged in the ashes of Germany at the end of World War II. Several imprisoned surviving priests asked the question, How could we have missed this catastrophe?” As recent article in U.S. Catholic articulates:

    “Immediately after the war these Dachau survivors, especially two Jesuit priests, Fathers Otto Pies and Wilhelm Schamoni, wrote about their conversations in a series of articles.
    One of the things that they had discovered at Dachau was that the church seemed to be missing a servant’s heart. They began to say, ‘We have images of Christ the king and Christ the priest. But maybe what’s gone missing is Christ the servant. For 100 years we’ve been talking about the possibility of deacons here in Germany—that’s the missing piece, and that’s how this could come together.’
    The mistake I see quite often here in the United States is to confuse the deacon’s mission with charity alone or even just charity and justice. That’s too limiting. I refer to deacons as ‘ministers of connect the dots.’ We are supposed to show how charity and justice are a function of word and sacrament. They all fit together—they’re not separate, distinct compartments. So what were the bishops doing in bringing back the permanent diaconate? To put it simply, they wanted to create a world where a Dachau cannot exist again.” This article appeared in the June 2014 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 79, No. 6, pages 24-28).

    The scandal and the reaction of some clerics demands that deacons do their job…that of speaking truth to power. “Connecting the dots” as the article states.

    In the case of these scandals the greatest evil was and is within the Church, the hierarchy, who did not do the simplest job of caring for little children over caring for “the church”. This is indefensible. There is an additional evil, a responsibility that carries to the “good catholic” who blindly defends the Church even when it is wrong and corrupt.

    Every good Catholic should read the Pennsylvania report. Every good Catholic should watch the movie Spotlight. Every good Catholic should pray for the men and women, boys and girls who were so terribly harmed by our beloved Catholic clergy.

    Hooray for Deacon Garcia. We need “sacramentalized men”, a true deacon whose calling is to serve as Christ the Servant.

    Ad Multos annos, good job, keep up the good work!

    1. Congratulations to Deacon Garcia for expressing the thoughts and feelings of so many faithful. We can only hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will pry open the heart and mind of Cardinal Wuerl and he will step down.

  4. During the diaconate ordination, the candidates make three promises. Kneeling before the bishop, the third is:

    “Do you promise respect and obedience to your ordinary and his successors?”

    So, we have a deacon who decides that he can no longer in good faith fulfill his promise of obedience.

    I like the letter, but I don’t know if I support the decision.

    1. In what way has Deacon Garcia been disobedient? Is there evidence that he has refused a request of the Bishop? No there is not.

      Kuddos to Deacon Garcia! More need to take bold action as he to stand up to the evil, corruption and coverup of a very sick group of individuals masquerading as holy men and church leaders. Anyone who doesn’t think Wuerl knew of McCarrick’s actions is incredibly naive. Shameful indeed! He should resign immediately!

    2. Saying he cannot assist the Bishop is disobedience. He assists other Priests at the behest of his Bishop. When he travels to assist a Priest in another Diocese he must seek his Bishop’s permission. Giving Bishop Wuerl four days to respond before making the letter public (possibly without notifying him of this potential consequence) seems unreasonable and a betrayal.

      It seems Bishop Wuerl has planned on going to Rome to beg that the Pope accept his third letter of resignation before the letter from the Deacon.

      By refusing to assist the Bishop in ministering to the Sacraments, the Deacon is also risking creating an illusion among the faithful that Sacraments are dependent on the purity of heart of the minister. Sacraments are valid because of the valid ordination of the Priest or Deacon. If the clergy ministering the Sacraments is an unrepentant sinner, he passes judgement on himself, never on the validity of the Sacraments.

      I believe the letter should have remained private until a reasonable response time and a second letter were submitted to the Bishop informing him that a reiteration of the letter would be released to a public forum. In addition it may have been better to have asked the Bishop that he no longer invite him to assist him at Sacraments or as an MC but would be willing to be invited to assist other Priests. The Bishop then has the authority to allow him to continue to serve the Priests of the Diocese and no disobedience could be inferred.

  5. Wuerl will not resign he in his heart feels he followed the advice of a 1985 doctor to return those priests that were cured. Only the documents can tell if he is faithfully and truthfully remembering his actions from 30 years. A court of inquiry !! Or a vatican review with lay participation. Deacon is applying pressure to the Cardinal truly remember his actions 30 years in past. The 2002 Lay board has all volunteered to reconvene with a Vatican total document access mandate to review Wuerl and literally all Bishops. THAT is the only Solution really. A TRIAL. UNLESS the SPIRIT intervenes on Wuerls spirit.

  6. Your courage is amazing. You know there may be retribution but you take your stand for what is right and true. But what I find so amazing in all of the painful things that have come to light and continue to come to light is that the eternal fate of those who committed these crimes but have now passed on is never discussed. So many of the nuns who murdered babies in Ireland, the clergy who abused children in so many countries, and those who covered up all their crimes are now dead. They never confessed or repented before they passed on. Where are they now? Are they in Hell? They must be, because if they are not, no one is or ever has been or ever will be.

  7. Deacon Garcia you wonderful brave servant of the church. I am adding you to my prayer list. Thank you for walking the walk. Your actions and courage to standing up for what is right in our church is most refreshing. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your family.

    Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel.


  8. In 2002 we addressed the priest sex abuse scandal, now in 2018 we are addressing the abuse of power and sex scandals within the hierarchy. I naively thought things were corrected in 2002-boy was I wrong! If the Church cannot take care of this, then we the laity must do the job. It is are our sons and daughters that are being hurt and scandalized. I ask you, if you were the Principal of a school and you were told that the 7th grade teacher was molesting students would you move that teacher to High School? Of course not! You would remove the accused teacher and them proceed to investigate the accusations and take the prescribed action if the teacher were found guilty. In essence these Bishops moved these molesters to other classes. At Mass yesterday I felt the Lord tell me that if we the laity do not take care of this we are no better than those in power that have been covering this up. Now that we know what is going on we must do the right thing and make sure the Church’s authority and Holiness is restored. I as a parent feel a deep responsibility to do whatever the Lord wants me to do to help our good priests and Bishops purify Christ’s Church.

  9. Deacon Garcia did what many do not have the courage to do, even members of the hierarchy: speak truth to power. Since June 20, the clergy, hierarchy, and the Vatican have been more concerned with controlling the story than boldly and honestly the issue. There has been so much empty rhetoric; I find it interesting that a permanent deacon feels the call to action more than the hierarchy. Personal integrity is something to be cherished and defended. Cardinal Wuerl seems to think his “season of healing” will solve the problem. That ship has sailed a long time ago. People who sit in the “first chair” must accept all of the responsibility –not just for the good things–without passing the buck or any excuses. In the end, the decisions are there own and they need to start “manning up” to it. The Church needs leaders; those not afraid of the sacrifice. Isn’t that what the cardinal’s scarlet is all about?

  10. I take it that it wasn’t possible for Rev Garcia to actually speak directly to Cardinal Wuerl about this? Personally, I think I would, a cleric, abhor addressing my bishop in this sort of public way. But I do understand that in this time of catastrophe such matters of order, obedience, and courtesy may well need to give way before greater imperatives; and, yes, Cardinal Wuerl, inter alii, ought to resign and then do public penance and retire to a life of that and prayer.

  11. Thank you, Deacon Garcia. I grew up in Catholic Pittsburgh and interacted with seven of the priests named to date. Wuerl and Bevilacqua were the bishops. Your actions are the first that directly address and attempt to remedy the problems here in the US. Thank you for living your faith courageously. I hope you serve as a positive role model to all the US Clergy, for backing up your words with direct actions. I will always remember you in my prayers, when I pray for my neighbors and classmates.

  12. Beautiful and brave and true! More of the faithful need to follow your friend’s example to save the church! I piblished a book last year based on the true of one of the victims in that report who committed suicide as anresult of those abuses. Such cruelty and evil — and the complicity of the leadership — cannot go unanswered.

    1. I am starting to think that the true problem in the Catholic church is not clericalism. it is not the patriarchy. It is cruelty that is selected for when they select people for. Clerical positions. You have to be able to tell a dying mother she cannot practice birth control. You have to be able to kill Cathars or Heretics on demand. You have to be able to look the other way when people are driven to suicide by sex abuse. Please everyone consider this and investigate if you can and write about it because I think that is at the core of all these terrible problems.

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