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Pope names new Washington bishop

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl to replace Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as archbishop of Washington, the Vatican said Tuesday.
( [email protected] ) May 16, 2006 09:55 AM EDT

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl to replace Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as archbishop of Washington, the Vatican said Tuesday.

McCarrick, a leading moderate voice in the U.S. church, submitted his resignation as required of all bishops when he turned 75 in July. In a brief statement, the Vatican said Benedict had accepted McCarrick's resignation and named Wuerl to replace him.

Wuerl, 65, a native of Pittsburgh, returned to the city in 1988 after working in Seattle.

"Although I am greatly aware of my own limitations, I find strength in the pope's trust in me and also in the prayerful support I have always found from the Catholic faithful I have attempted to serve here in the Diocese of Pittsburgh," Wuerl said in a statement Tuesday.

He was one of the American delegates at the Vatican's meeting of the world's bishops in October that tackled some pressing issues facing the church, including the priest shortage. The bishops rejected any change to the celibacy requirement for priests and suggested dioceses share clergy and step up recruiting to cope with the shortage.

McCarrick has been in the spotlight in recent years as he tried to moderate the fierce debate over whether Catholic politicians must adhere to church teaching in their professional lives.

He headed a task force of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops studying the issue and has said that he himself didn't feel comfortable denying Communion to Catholic politicians who back abortion rights, for example.

McCarrick, who was born July 7, 1930, was made Washington archbishop by Pope John Paul II in 2000, after serving as archbishop of Newark, N.J.

He has said that after stepping down he will divide his time between Catholic Relief Services and the Papal Foundation, a charity he helped establish. McCarrick also wants to learn his sixth language, Arabic.

In other appointments Tuesday, the Vatican said Benedict had named the bishop of Little Rock, Ark., Monsignor James Peter Sartain, bishop of Joliet, Ill. Sartain replaces Bishop Joseph Imesch, who like McCarrick resigned because he reached age 75.