Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Metropolitan Archbishop emeritus 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. Peter’s 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.
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).
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".
He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
He participated in the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 2014) on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization and, appointed by Pope Francis, in the XIV Ordinary General Assembly on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World (October 2015).
On 12 October 2018 the Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Washington, United States of America, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl.