Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI today named Donald W. Wuerl, Bishop of Pittsburgh, to be the new Archbishop of Washington, D.C., succeeding Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who had held the position for the last five years. McCarrick presented his resignation upon turning 75 to the Pope, as is custom for all Bishops.

Prior to his new appointment, Bishop Wuerl had overseen the over 800,000 Catholics in the Pittsburgh community for the last 18 years. A native of Pittsburgh, the Bishop was educated in Rome and spent time serving in the Diocese of Seattle.

The new position is significant because of its location. The prelate of the Diocese of Washington is often the most influential because of its frequent contacts with the White House, Congress and the rest of the government. Wuerl said he was prepared to accept his new role as one of the foremost spiritual leaders of the American arm of the Church.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh consists of Allegheny, Washington, Butler, Beaver, Greene and Lawrence counties in the state of Pennsylvania.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, made the announcement of Bishop Wuerl’s appointment this morning, and a press conference was held in Washington at 10 a.m. EDT. A following press conference will be held at 6 p.m. EDT with Wuerl in St. Paul Seminary, Pittsburgh. The Archbishop of Washington is traditionally a Cardinal, so there is the possibility that Wuerl will soon be elevated to Cardinal status.