Truro News

Mahony abuse files dominate papal conclave’s dirty laundry as pressure mounts to keep him home


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.

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