Conclave brings out cardinals’ dirty laundry


In this Feb. 6, 2008 file photo , Cardinal Roger Mahony officiates during Ash Wednesday services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Popular pressure is mounting in the U.S. and Italy to keep California Cardinal Roger Mahony away from the conclave to elect the next pope because of his role shielding sexually abusive priests, a movement targeting one of the most prominent of a handful of compromised cardinals scheduled to vote next month. AP/Nick Ut

VATICAN CITY — Popular pressure is mounting in the U.S. and Italy to keep California Cardinal Roger Mahony away from the conclave to elect the next pope because of his role shielding sexually abusive priests, a movement targeting one of the most prominent of a handful of compromised cardinals scheduled to vote next month.

Amid the outcry, Mahony has made clear he is coming, and no one can force him to recuse himself. A Vatican historian also said Wednesday that there is no precedent for a cardinal staying home because of personal scandal. But the growing grass-roots campaign is an indication that ordinary Catholics are increasingly demanding a greater say in who is fit to elect their pope, and casts an ugly shadow over the upcoming papal election.

Conclaves always bring out the worst in cardinals’ dirty laundry, with past sins and transgressions aired anew in the slow news days preceding the vote. This time is no different — except that the revelations of Mahony’s sins are so fresh and come on the tails of a recent round of sex abuse scandals in the U.S. and Europe.

This week, the influential Italian Catholic affairs magazine Famiglia Cristiana asked its readers if the Los Angeles-based Cardinal Mahony should participate in the conclave given the revelations. “Your opinion: Mahony in the conclave: Yes or No?” reads the online survey of one of Italy’s most-read magazines.

The overwhelming majority among more than 350 replies has been a clear-cut “No.”

The magazine is distributed free in Italian parishes each Sunday. The fact that it initiated the poll is an indication that the Catholic establishment in Italy has itself questioned whether tarnished cardinals should be allowed to vote — a remarkable turn of events for a conservative Catholic country that has long kept quiet about priestly abuse and still is deferential to the church hierarchy in its backyard.

That initiative followed a petition by a group in the United States, Catholics United, demanding that Mahony recuse himself. So far 5,600 people have signed the petition, according to spokesman Chris Pumpelly.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United, said in a statement on the group’s website. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

Mahony, however, has made clear he will vote. “Count-down to the papal conclave has begun. Your prayers needed that we elect the best pope for today and tomorrow’s church,” he tweeted earlier this week. He promised daily Twitter updates.

Separately on Wednesday, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan was deposed about clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led from 2002 until 2009. The Milwaukee archdiocese has sought bankruptcy protection from nearly 500 abuse claims. The attorney for the Milwaukee archdiocese said Dolan was mainly questioned about his decision to publicly name clergy known to have molested children.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, one of the Vatican’s top canon lawyers, told The Associated Press that barring any canonical impediments, Mahony has a right and duty to vote in the conclave. At best, he said, someone could persuade him not to come, but De Paolis insisted he wasn’t suggesting that someone should.

Bishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, said it was up to Mahony’s conscience to decide whether or not to participate.

“It’s not an easy situation for him,” Scicluna was quoted as saying by Rome daily La Repubblica.

Last month, a court in Los Angeles ordered the release of thousands of pages of confidential personnel files of more than 120 priests accused of sex abuse. The files show that Mahony and other top archdiocese officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield accused priests and protect the church from a growing scandal while keeping parishioners in the dark.

Mahony was stripped of his public and administrative duties last month by his successor at the largest Catholic diocese in the United States. But the dressing-down by Archbishop Jose Gomez only affected Mahony’s work in the archdiocese, not his role as a cardinal. Gomez has since urged prayers for Mahony as he enters the conclave.

Mahony has responded directly and indirectly to the outcry on his blog, writing about the many “humiliations” Jesus endured.

“Given all of the storms that have surrounded me and the archdiocese of Los Angeles recently, God’s grace finally helped me to understand: I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility. Rather, I am being called to something deeper — to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many,” Mahony wrote.

He said in recent days he had been confronted by many angry people. “I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage — at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us,” he wrote. “Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.”

Mahony declined further comment Wednesday, according to the archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamburg.

Mahony is scheduled to be questioned under oath on Saturday as part of a clergy abuse lawsuit about how he handled a visiting Mexican priest who police believe molested 26 children in the Los Angeles archdiocese during a nine-month stay in 1987. The Rev. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera fled to Mexico in 1988 after parents complained. He has since been defrocked but remains a fugitive, with warrants for his arrest in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Historian Ambrogio Piazzoni, the vice prefect of the Vatican library, said there was no precedent for a cardinal staying away from a conclave because of personal scandal, though in the past some have been impeded either by illness or interference by governments.

Regardless, he said, any decision to stay away would have to be approved by the full College of Cardinals given that the main duty of a cardinal is to vote in a conclave.

“The thing that characterizes a cardinal is to be an elector of the pope,” he told reporters.

Italian newspapers have been filled with profiles of the cardinals whose presence at the conclave would be an “embarrassment” to the Vatican. They include Irish Cardinal Sean Brady, accused of covering up sex abuse; Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, whose offices were searched in 2010 amid a crackdown on pedophile priests by Belgian police; and Cardinal Justin Rigali who retired as archbishop of Philadelphia in disgrace after a grand jury accused him of keeping credibly accused abusers on the job.

Dirty laundry was also aired in the run-up to the 2005 conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, for example, was cited in a criminal complaint just days before the conclave alleging involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two fellow Jesuits during Argentina’s dark years of

military dictatorship. The cardinal’s spokesman at the time called the allegation by a human rights lawyer “old slander.”

According to the only published account of the 2005 secret balloting, Bergoglio came in second place.

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  • NinjaMan

    that’s weird. it’s already 10:14 am and still no ‘catholic bashing’ comments?

    • mhertz

      that is what exactly i’m thinking when i read the article. maybe in a bit..

    • tohellwithhypocrites

      its bcoz people now don’t care about these pedophiles…

  • geminimind

    Priests who ask for forgiveness are not necessarily forgiven because of continued intention to do it all over again.

    • mhertz

      forgiveness should be coupled with repentance to make a sound confession,

    • panhase

        In his blog, Cardinal Mahony asked forgiveness, not for himself but for “the very unhappy people” who confronted him about the scandal.
      That´s something isn´t it?

  • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

    how come conrado quiros is not commenting on these lunatics while he is bashing INC’s block voting.

    i guess its much more religious for priests to screw their constituent for as long as they say “Oh Go… Oh God… repeteadly and its with their holy spirits guidance.”

  • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

    i know the reason why no one is bashing catholics like these.

    its the new norm! :)

  • Mike335

    No one is bashing the Catholics because the truth hurts!

  • Mike335

    There is nothing in the Bible that states it is forbidden to marry and have children for people who serve God!

    The Catholics changed this teaching – now we have rapes, murders, polygamy, pre-marital sex, etc.

  • Crazy_horse101010

    2 months ago woodburn oregon usa mexican priest was caught rarping a 10 year old boy. the church gave him unlimited account to hire the best and most expensive lawyer in oregon. when the church was asked why.. . the answer was we have to show compassion and forgiveness for the priest. the boy wasnt mentioned.

    • Baruk1

      La Repubblica quoted a man described as “very close” to the authors as saying the information it contained was “all about the breach of the sixth and seven commandments” – which say “thou shalt not commit adultery” and “thou shalt not steal”.

      The cardinals were said to have uncovered an underground gay network, whose members organise sexual meetings in several venues in Rome and Vatican City, leaving them prone to blackmail.

      The secret report also delves into suspect dealings at the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), the Vatican’s bank, where a new chairman was appointed last week after a nine-month vacancy, La Repubblica said, without going into details.

      Part of the news my friend…. please read the article today at yahoo

  • Crazy_horse101010

    just in the news new york cardinal timothy dolan was deposed in connections to accusations of sexual abuse at the archdiocese of milwalkee. he was mentioned as a longshot for the new pope

    • Baruk1

      Pope Benedict XVI resigned after an internal investigation informed him about a web of blackmail, corruption and gay sex in the Vatican, Italian media reports say.

      Three cardinals were asked by Benedict to verify allegations of financial impropriety, cronyism and corruption exposed in the so-called VatiLeaks affair.

      On December 17, 2012, they handed the pontiff two red-leather bound volumes, almost 300 pages long, containing “an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish” inside the Holy See, La Repubblica said.

      “It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,” said the centre-left newspaper. It said its article was the first of a series.

      Read more on yahoo news taday – Friday

  • guinitaranmiah

    believing in GOD,is not about leaders or a priest, it is about faith in HIM….only GOD knows the truth,no religion can save your soul by judgement of your sins but only yourself by doing good…..:)

  • Abdul Rashid

    This Mahoney just doen’t want to be absent from the VATICAN’s orgy. Let him be, they are all the same.

  • HaroldT

    MITSUBISHOPS!! They are the Modern Pharisees and Sadducees!!!  They Don’t Do what they Preach!!!

  • ryan andres

    Of course he wants to be there. He needs to brief the Nazi Pope’s replacement on how to continue the cover up and the lies.

  • Edrick Gonzales Madeja

    mind conditioning tactics na naman…………….

  • Baruk1

    Vatican scandal cited in Pope resignation
    AAP Updated February 22, 2013, 11:48 am
    yahoo news today

  • Edgardo Mendoza


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