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Now gathering in Rome, a conclave of fallible cardinals


CARDINALS-articleLarge(NYT) The sudden resignation of the most senior Roman Catholic cardinal in Britain, who stepped aside on Monday in the face of accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward priests years ago, showed that the taint of scandal could force a cardinal from participating in the selection of a new pope.

His exit came as at least a dozen other cardinals tarnished with accusations that they had failed to remove priests accused of sexually abusing minors were among those gathering in Rome to prepare for the conclave to select a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. There was no sign that the church’s promise to confront the sexual abuse scandal had led to direct pressure on those cardinals to exempt themselves from the conclave.

Advocates for abuse victims who were in Rome on Tuesday focused particular ire on Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, and called for him to be excluded from the conclave. But Cardinal Mahony, who has vigorously defended his record, was already in Rome, posting on Twitter about the weather.

Even stalwart defenders of the church point out that to disqualify Cardinal Mahony would leave many more cardinals similarly vulnerable. Many of the men who will go into the Sistine Chapel to elect a pope they hope will help the church recover from the bruising scandal of sexual abuse have themselves been blemished by it.

“Among bishops and cardinals, certainly the old guys who have been involved for so long, sure they’re going to have blood on their hands,” said Thomas G. Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, who has served on the American bishops’ national abuse advisory board and has written three books on sexual abuse. “So when Cardinal Mahony says he’s being scapegoated, in some respects I think he’s right. All the focus is on him, but what about the other guys?”

Among the many challenges facing the church, addressing the wounds caused by sexual abuse is among the top priorities, church analysts say. When Pope Benedict was elected in 2005, many Catholics hoped that his previous experience at the helm of the Vatican office that dealt with abuse cases would result in substantive changes. [More]


New York Times



  1. Andrew says:

    Come Holy Spirit come. Come into our hearts and infuse in us the wisdom to put our total faith in you. For you are in charge of this transition, this purification, and this necessary persecution in order to achieve that purification. Send us not the new pope that we want or think we need but the man that YOU know is the right shepherd for your flock of sheep so in need of a strong shepherd to lead our souls to God. Amen!

    • Tony says:

      Be careful what you pray for Andrew you might get a nice liberal guy.

      • Andrew says:

        I – and you – will get what God wills. God willed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. My faith is in God because God knows better than I do. He is my shepherd and I strive to be totally obedient to Him through His Holy Catholic Church.

        • Tony says:

          Did God also will the bad popes of the Middle Ages?

          • Andrew says:

            Yes Tony, God willed every pope who served the Church. Not that it’s your place to judge a pope (its not). Sometimes God wills things that are mysterious. Sometimes those things are punishments as Our Lady said at Fatima and other times He wills things to humble a population that deserves humbling. Now is a good time for American Catholics to be humbled: especially those who think they know better than the Church!!!

            • Tony says:

              Andrew your joking, God punishes his church with bad Popes?
              Ya really think God is that screwed up and disfunctional? Or are you just projecting on to God?

              • Andrew says:

                Let’s see… God willed that a persecutor of the Church (St. Paul) would become an apostle and one of the most effective evangelists of all time. God willed a cloistered nun who suffered from scruples and low self esteem (St. Therese of Liseux) to become one of the most beloved saints and a doctor of the Church. God willed that three illiterate children in a backwater town in rural Portugal would receive the prophecies of His Mother rather than some intellectuals. Ditto for Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes and Juan Diego of Guadeloupe. One of those messages at Fatima (that you don’t believe despite overwhelming evidence and Church approval) was that wars were punishment for the seriousness of mankind. Earlier at La Salette (another approved Marian apparition that you would never believe in your defiance), Our Lady predicted a great famine as punishment for sins against the Commandments about taking the Lord’s name in vain and not observing the Sabbath. So yes Tony, God wills a lot of things that are mysterious including punishments. Perhaps in these remaining weeks of Lent you can reflect upon yourself, how you’ve slandered the holy father and how you can strive to be a better person. Good luck!

                • Tony says:

                  To start off God did not will Paul to do evil,
                  He willed his conversion and then Paul cooperated with God to becoming who is was called to be.
                  The other stories of meek and mild people doing grat things is nothing like the sinful leaders of the church, or the guys who cover up priestly ABUSE of children.

    • Cathlic Lady says:

      I will pray that the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth will guide us all to truth – and will watch over the Church in these trying days…please join me in prayer for our Pope Benedict as he prepares for a life of quiet and a much needed rest…

  2. Ann says:

    Reality is beginning to impact upon the “holy” processes of the conclave. Moral here: Reality is not only the setting for holiness, it is the very locus of holiness. There is no holiness without reality. If the church cannot be real relative to what is required of the next pope, and elect accordingly, the institutional church deserves whatever happens to it because the hierarchy has moved it beyond the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and ignored the moral and spiritual needs of the people of God.

  3. Florian says:

    All Cardinals swear an oath to be company men, which factors into their selection as cardinals in the first place. And company men are not going to betray the church or its secrets to put an end to the sex abuse scandals. That would take a leader from outside the cardinals, maybe even outside the Catholic church.

  4. Recovering Catholic says:

    Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley seems like the ideal choice for our next pope. Cardinal O’Malley is clean with no baggage, has a reputation as a modest, spiritually dedicated reformer and is a humble man who serves the poor and defends human life. He’s come in and done an excellent job coming in after Cardinal Law to clean up his sexual abuse mess.

  5. Tony says:

    How nice it would be to have O’Mally as pope, a good simple man, in a Capuchin Franciscan Habit, what a contrast to some of the Cardinals who like to parade around in red silk attire and be treated like Royalty.
    O’Malley has handeled the sex scandal brilliantly in Boston and Palm Beach, In my book is should be the next Pope.


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