But he said the years-long scandal, and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, showed just "how many souls have been wounded irrevocably and mortally by priests from the Catholic Church".
Amid such turmoil, a gathering of the global church leadership to discuss a specific problem - in the tradition of church synods and councils - is a good idea, but should take place sooner than February, said Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in New Jersey.
The note was sent on Tuesday, after Wuerl spent the week meeting with priests in his diocese about whether he should stand down or not.
"Cardinal Wuerl did not act with moral courage to remove predator priests from public ministry".
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Francis' key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with USA church leaders who have been discredited anew by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church's decades-long sex abuse and cover-up scandal. However, Cardinal Wuerl will not be attending that meeting and will be staying in Washington D.C. where he has a mass scheduled Friday at St. Matthew's Cathedral.
Wuerl has been accused of covering up child sex abuse in the church, and of knowing about allegations of molestation leveled at his predecessor, Theodore McCarrick (pictured).
Alarmed by sexual abuse scandals in a number of countries, Pope Francis is summoning senior bishops to a meeting early next year to discuss the prevention of abuse by Roman Catholic clerics and the protection of children, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
The pope initially said he would not say a "single word" on the accusations and refused to even answer a question about when he first knew of McCarrick's behavior. A Vatican statement said the meeting also will include Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield.
Three of the nine council members were absent for the meetings: Cardinal George Pell, 77, who now is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 85, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October.