Groups Name 'Dirty' Cardinals Ahead of Papal Conclave
In addition to Calcagno and Mahony, SNAP has singled out another dozen or so cardinals who are unlikely contenders they believe are too tainted by scandal to participate in the conclave.
So far, the only scandal-tainted cardinal to drop out of the conclave is Keith O'Brien of the U.K., who was accused of "inappropriate contact" with fellow priests. He recently admitted his "sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal," and promised to take no longer take part in the "public life" of the Catholic Church.
For his part, U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan -- one of SNAP's "Dirty Dozen" -- claims the U.S. church at least is on the "right track" when it comes to dealing with sex abuse.
Speaking to CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey at the Vatican ahead of the conclave, Dolan acknowledged the "torture the Catholics went through in the United States."
Dolan, however, stands accused of acting improperly when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee. The New York Times reports there is documentation that he "authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood," while not reporting any abusive priests to law enforcement. In response to that accusation and others that he failed to act on the abuse of parishioners, Dolan called them "false, preposterous and unjust."
Whatever the truth, Dolan claimed in a recent "Face the Nation" interview that "there's no cardinal with his head in the sand when it comes to these issues."
Some are predicting that the discussions over how to handle these issues are likely to lengthen the selection process for the next pope, a claim Dolan seemed to agree with.
"Sexual immorality, perversion, abuse of children, (the things) that affects all elements of society and culture, are particularly hideous when it comes to the Church," Dolan said. "And that that will be an issue? I predict it will."
The Vatican itself has been very touchy about calls for abuse-tainted cardinals to drop out of the papal selection process. When calls for Cardinal Mahony to withdrawal first went up, Ambrogio Piazzoni, vice prefect of the Vatican Library, told reporters on Feb. 20 that all eligible members of the College of Cardinals are required to attend and participate in the papal conclave. (Canonical law scholars have since pointed out this is not necessarily true.)
In response to SNAP's "Dirty Dozen" list, Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reports on Wednesday they are "well aware" of the accusations, but that it is not up to advocacy groups to determine "who should participate or not in the conclave."
Victims' groups have recently begun pointing out that most of the abuse allegations and trials and revelations have come from Europe and the Americas, where the legal, media, and investigative systems are more robust than places like Africa and Asia, which nonetheless have a huge and old Catholic population. All this is to say the sex abuse scandal may yet be found to have an even more global reach than is currently known.