Priest calls for Cardinal Donald Wuerl's resignation as parishioners meet in D.C.


Catholics at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Northwest Washington are starting to take the church into their own hands and began that process with a town hall meeting Sunday afternoon.

The gathering of around 300 parishioners lasted nearly two hours inside the school gymnasium. A microphone was passed to anyone who wanted to share how they feel or ask questions to the priests. Some parishioners said this could be the start of how the Catholic Church can move past the child abuse and cover-up scandal.

“I just love this, the fact that we had it. I mean, parishes don’t do this sort of thing,” Dr. John Michael Dluhy said.

Dluhy is a psychiatrist and member of the church. He was invited to help moderate the town hall meeting.

“Each member should have a voice,” he said.

After two hours, the parishioners left and some said they want to see this type of layperson participation continue.

“It gave people the opportunity, I think, to listen to each other, to express their deep hurt but also their hopes for the future. It is a very good place to start, but it is just a start,” said Odelia Funke.

Funke hopes for greater transparency, more accountability and for more of the decision making to happen with the people.

“That while they tell us, ‘You are the church,” we don’t have the opportunity to be the church. And that is the issue that has brought us together right now,” parishioner Jim Zogby said.

Zogby helped organize the meeting. He said the church needs to accept responsibility.

“Own up, fess up to what it’s done, what it’s failed to do, and ask forgiveness,” he said.

While the sexual abuse scandal is affecting the entire church, the Washington Archdiocese is feeling the pain personally.

RELATED: Facing calls to resign, Cardinal Wuerl leads mass dealing with sexual abuse by clergy

“Because we’ve had these two people, who are important to us, who have essentially betrayed us,” Dluhy said.

The church found credible sexual abuse accusations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and a Pennsylvania grand jury report named Cardinal Donald Wuerl more than 200 times for allegedly covering up for predator priests.

Father Percival D’Silva of Blessed Sacrament has been an ordained priest for more than half a century. He said he understands his parishioners’ frustrations with the scandal.

“They are angry and so am I,” he said. “I’m mad.”

D’Silva believes change needs to start at the top of the Washington Archdiocese.

“He may be my boss but,” he started to say of Wuerl, “please resign. Please step aside. This will be the first step in the healing process. We are all hurting. The Catholic church is much larger than one bishop.”

There’s a long road ahead for Catholics who want to change the church.

“The question is, will there be a seat at the table for them when they come,” Zogby said.

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