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Bishop Wuerl discounts speculation he's going to Boston

Sunday, June 08, 2003

By Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Bishop Donald Wuerl of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh sloughed off reports about his potential candidacy to head the scandal-ridden Archdiocese of Boston, saying he was working full steam ahead on plans for Pittsburgh.

"This is simply speculation," Wuerl said last night of a Boston Globe story that reported some church officials considered him the most likely candidate for the post, which the newspaper said could be filled by a new appointment as early as Tuesday.

Whoever is appointed to Boston will replace disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law who resigned late last year after his failure to dismiss known child molesters from ministry led to a national scandal in the Catholic church. Wuerl has long been said to be among the top choices to replace him because of his documented determination to remove known child molesters from ministry.

Vatican decorum does not permit bishops to say whether or not they are about to be appointed to another diocese. However, the subtleties of church diplomatic parlance are such that a bishop who knows he is about to be named to a diocese normally says he "can't comment" rather than dismissing leaks as speculation.

In years past Wuerl was subject to similar media speculation that he was about to be named archbishop in St. Louis and Chicago. He made the same remarks about "speculation" and did not move.

Furthermore, several people close to Wuerl have told the Post-Gazette within the past 10 days that they saw no indication that Wuerl expected to pull up stakes from Pittsburgh. He was recently looking for a priest to serve as his master of ceremonies -- who accompanies him to visits outside his office and tends to protocol -- starting later this summer.

Last night, Wuerl spoke of numerous projects that he was working on for weeks and months into the future, all of which depended on his presence in Pittsburgh. About 10 days ago he responded to a request from a group of priests in one region of the diocese and scheduled a meeting with them for the last week of this month, he said.

Asked if he expected to keep that appointment, Wuerl replied, "Oh, yes."

As he spoke, Wuerl noted, he was making plans for the full 2003-2004 schedule of his weekly television program, "The Teaching of Christ," which is based at the diocesan seminary in East Carnegie. He is preparing homilies for the ordination of new priests on June 28, and the 50th anniversaries of two different parishes on June 22 and June 29. He is also gearing up for one of his favorite events of the year, a prayer service and cookout at the seminary for dozens of young men who are thinking about priesthood.

"We have a whole schedule full of things," Wuerl said. "None of it has been changed."


Ann Rodgers-Melnick can be reached at arodgersmelnick@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416.

Correction/Clarification (Published June 9, 2003): A story in the Boston Globe editions of June 8, 2003 said some church officials believe Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop Donald W. Wuerl was the most likely choice to become the next archbishop of Boston. In the June 8, 2003 editions of the Post-Gazette this article mischaracterized the report as saying that Wuerl was about to be appointed.

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