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College of Cardinals

Biographical notes

[Updated: 16.12.2013]


Notice: the biographical notes are only a working instrument for the press.


WUERL Card. Donald William


Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, on 12 November 1940. He started college seminary at the Athenaeum of Ohio in 1958, being awarded the Basselin Scholarship, he received his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in 1963. He then was sent to the North American College in Rome where he completed his studies for the priesthood as a student at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was ordained to the priesthood on 17 December 1966 in St. Peterís Basilica and holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He has since lectured in theology and philosophy at various universities, including the Catholic University of America where he is presently chancellor.

From 1981 to 1985, he was rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh. 

On 30 November 1985 he was appointed titular Bishop of Rosemarkie and Auxiliary of Seattle. Pope John Paul ordained him a bishop on 6 January 1986.

On 12 February 1988 he was installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh.

On 16 May 2006 he was appointed Archbishop of Washington.

He serves on various committees within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He holds honorary degrees from eleven universities and is a Knight of Malta, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, and a fourth degree Knight of Columbus.

On 22 October 2011 he was appointed Relator General of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place from the 7th to 28th of October 2012 on the theme "The Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith".

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the Consistory of 20 November 2010, of the Title of San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains).

Member of:

  • Congregations: for the Doctrine of the Faith; for the Clergy; for Bishops;
  • Pontifical Councils: for Promoting Christian Unity; for Culture:
  • XIII Ordinary Council of the Secretariat General of the Synod of Bishops.



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