Pope Francis accepted the offer Friday, but asked Wuerl to stay on temporarily until a replacement is found and suggested he had unfairly become a scapegoat and victim of the mounting outrage over the abuse scandal.
Wuerl, now 77, had originally submitted his resignation two years ago, as required by cannon law.
The Pope said Friday that he had also received a September 21 request from Cardinal Wuerl that his resignation be accepted. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense.
"Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church", the Pope added.
He also apologised for "past errors in judgment" and asked for "pardon". The report accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. Some cases in the report raised concerns that he had allowed priests accused of abuse to remain in ministry after allegations had been made against them. The report led to protests demanding his resignation. Other allegations of abuse have since emerged via reports from Buffalo's WKBW-TV 7 Eyewitness News and others, prompting Boston Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley to call on the Vatican to investigate Bishop Robert Malone "for the action or inaction of diocesan leadership in Buffalo with regard to the reports of abuse", a diocesan spokesman told WKBW-TV.
Sweet has filed a lawsuit, on behalf of a number of plaintiffs, claiming the church is still engaged in a major cover up; and among other things, church officials are concealing the names predator priests. Despite accepting the resignation, Francis also praised Wuerl's "nobility" and said he was "proud" of him.
The shoe finally dropped for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, but it hasn't quite hit the floor yet. Oullett charged that Viganò, an ally of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both more conservative than the current pontiff, was engaged in a "political plot" to harm Francis and "the communion of the Church". We are aware of our need for prayers as we prepare for the November meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, so that we can more effectively respond to the pastoral and spiritual needs of God's people with a firm resolve to live a life of integrity and holiness.
The cardinal, who will turn 78 on the 2 November, had submitted his resignation to the Pope nearly three years ago in accordance with the Church law which requires bishops to offer their retirement at age 75.
Kim Viti Fiorentino, the chancellor and general counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington, said in a statement October 12 that the archdiocese has "been profoundly blessed to have this great priest as our archbishop".
The pope goes on to extol Wuerl's move as that of a "shepherd" who, "by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body, prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and mission of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies".
Cardinal Wuerl's episcopal career appears to be ending in as much controversy as it began when he became an auxiliary bishop in Seattle in 1986.
In the 1990s Cardinal Wuerl hosted the television program, The Teaching of Christ.