Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s name removed from North Catholic High School
Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s name has been removed from North Catholic High School, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Wednesday morning, in the wake of a grand jury report detailing alleged sexual abuse by Pennsylvania priests.
Wuerl requested the change in a letter to Bishop David Zubik last week, said the Rev. Nicholas Vaskov, diocese spokesman.
The Pittsburgh church where Wuerl first served will also strip its hall of the former Pittsburgh bishop and current archbishop of Washington’s name.
The high school’s board met Friday and recommended the name be removed, Vaskov said. The board of Catholic High Schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh then accepted the request at a meeting Monday. Neither of those meetings were open to the public.
The school’s name will be North Catholic High School — the school’s original name before it moved from Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood to Cranberry in 2014.
“In light of the circumstances today and lest we in any way detract from the purpose of Catholic education… I respectfully ask you to remove my name from it,” Wuerl wrote in the letter, according to a diocese news release. “In this way, there should be no distraction from the great success of the school and, most importantly, the reason for the school — the students.”
Zubik said he made his decision “in the best interest of the high school,” the release said. He also acknowledged Wuerl’s efforts to preserve and expand Catholic educational opportunities for Pittsburgh children.
“My concern is first, foremost and always for the students, that nothing overshadows their Catholic education” Zubik said.
Wuerl’s name is mentioned 169 times in the report, which details occasions when Wuerl intervened to stop priests accused of abuse but also times where Wuerl transferred those priests to other parishes. He is not among the 301 “predator priests” named in the report.
An online petition calling for the removal of Wuerl’s name garnered thousands of signatures — more than 7,500 as of Wednesday afternoon. An entrance sign at the school was vandalized Monday morning with Wuerl’s name spray-painted over.
NEW JERSEYS MAY BE ON THE WAY
When North Catholic battles Albert Gallatin in the season opener for football on Friday, the initials on the jersey will still read ‘CWNC’.
The logo is on every jersey North Catholic athletes and cheerleaders will wear for the time being, officials said.
“A decision hasn’t been made yet on what to do with the uniforms,” North Catholic Athletic Director Mike Burrell said. “We haven’t received anything yet on what to do. CWNC is everywhere. It’s on our uniforms, scoreboards, on the gymnasium floor and signs around the school.”
Cardinal Wuerl will eventually be eliminated at the school, and it will be a costly change, according to Burrell. He wouldn’t guess how much it will cost the school.
“Anything we print like T-shirts and signs going forward will have the old North Catholic logo,” Burrell said. “But a decision hasn’t been made yet when we will start a complete change over.”
Vaskov said he did not know which items the school would remove Wuerl’s name from or how much it would cost.
North Catholic Principal Luke Crawford did not return calls seeking comment.
The school removed “Cardinal Wuerl” from the top of its website and photoshopped two of the photos on its homepage Wednesday to remove the name from a building and “CW” from a school bus, it appears.
CHURCH TO DROP WUERL’S NAME FROM HALL
St. Rosalia Church in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood is removing Wuerl’s name from its hall, the Rev. Joseph Reschick, the pastor, told the Trib.
“We’re taking the lead of the diocese, and we’re going to remove it,” Reschick said.
The church will also remove two photos of Wuerl that hang near the sign — one when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, and one from when he moved to Washington, he said.
The sign and the photos will come down in the coming weeks, he said.
He made the decision Wednesday after the diocese announced the removal of Wuerl’s name from North Catholic, he said.
He has not heard parishioners or the diocese request the change, he said.
“There was no one that even mentioned it,” he said.
St. Rosalia was Wuerl’s first assignment as a priest in the late 1960s, Reschick said.
The church named the hall after Wuerl in 1993, when Reschick became pastor, he said.
Wuerl was bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese for 18 years, ending in 2006 when he was promoted to his position in Washington.
Brian Rittmeyer and Thesea Clift are Tribune-Review staff writers. Staff writer Paul Schofield contributed to this report.