Denver archbishop sends letter after abuse crisis, sparks controversy with tweet

DENVER -- The Catholic Church is again in crisis over child abuse.

In the past few weeks, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick lost his priestly abilities after an allegation he molested a child.

Now another Cardinal, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, is facing calls for his resignation after his role in handling Pennsylvania priests accused of child abuse.

A bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report earlier this month suggested the church in Pennsylvania covered up 70 years worth of abuse from more than 300 priests involving 1,000 children.

This weekend in Denver, many pastors focused their homilies on the crisis.

Archbishop of Denver Samuel Aquila sent a letter over the weekend, saying “we face the undeniable fact that the Church has gone through a dark and shameful time.”

But a tweet from the archbishop is also sparking controversy, saying “active homosexuality” in the church fueled the crisis.

Jeb Barrett, leader of SNAP in Denver, a priest abuse survivor network, called the tweet insensitive. Barrett said he was abused by a priest in Montana in the 1950s.

“Oh man,” Barrett said. “The church has tried in all sorts of ways to divert attention away from criminal behavior against the vulnerable."

Barrett emphasized the latest abuse scandal is impacting survivors.

“I’ve cried a lot and a lot of other people have cried a lot,” Barrett said.

Aquila was unavailable for comment Monday, but Mark Haas, a spokesman for the archdiocese, clarified the tweet.

“No, he is not suggesting it’s one in the same, but Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality is well known," Haas said. "Teaching on any sexual act outside of a man and a woman in marriage open to procreation is viewed by the church as not living up to the teachings of the gospel."

Haas emphasized the church has a zero-tolerance abuse policy, saying if anything is suspected it must be reported to officials and law enforcement.

“If anybody suspects something, everyone knows it must be reported,” Haas said.

Pope Francis could accept Wuerl's resignation at any time. According to church law, all bishops must submit their resignation when they turn 75. Wuerl submitted his two years ago.

Wuerl told the Fox affiliate in Washington that he has no plans to resign.

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