Arianna, Mario's Musa daughter, adjusts a stole over
cardinal cassocks at her father's "Conflexclero" religious
atelier next to the Vatican in Rome. REUTERS/Max Rossi
American and Italian Catholics have called for a U.S.
cardinal accused of covering up sexual abuse by priests not to
take part in electing a new pope, saying he would taint the new
pontiff with the same scandal that dogged Benedict.
Italy's best-selling magazine Famiglia Cristiana - "Christian
Family" - asked its readers whether Roger Mahony, archbishop
of Los Angeles until 2011, should attend the conclave that
elects a successor to Pope Benedict next month - and the
overwhelming answer was "no".
The magazine, a weekly popular among churchgoers and very
influential in Italy, took up the charge after the US group
Catholics United launched a signature drive against Mahony
and asked its own readers to vote yes or no.
"No, he must not participate, for the good of the Church,"
wrote Superemme, in a typical response among hundreds on
Famiglia Cristiana's website. "I'm a believer and I love the
Church and I wish that those who erred in covering up for
paedophiles should not, by their presence, cast a shadow on
the good ones."
The petition launched last week in the United States had more
than 5,000 signatures as of Tuesday representing a tiny
fraction of the roughly one in four Americans who are
"Please do not bring further scandal to our Church that has
already been rocked by the sex abuse crisis by attending the
papal conclave. You have been disciplined and you have lost
your ability to have a voice within our Church," said the
petition from the Washington-based group.
As archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985, Mahony worked to send
priests known to be abusers out of state to shield them from
law enforcement scrutiny in the 1980s, according to church
files unsealed under a U.S. court order last month.
Although his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, removed him
from all public and administrative duties, Mahony has
announced his intention to fly to Rome where he would be
among 117 cardinals allowed into the Vatican's Sistine Chapel
to vote for the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion
Last week, Benedict, 85, became the first pope in centuries
to abdicate rather than die in office, saying effects of old
age meant he was unable to complete his ministry.
His eight-year reign will be remembered by many for the child
sex abuse scandal in Europe and the United States - most of
which took place in the 1980s but which came to light more
In his former position as head of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, critics say he was ultimately
responsible for the way child abuse by priests was covered up
for decades in order to preserve the Church's reputation.
The Vatican denies this, saying he enacted procedures to
shield children from abuse in the future and to screen out
potential paedophiles from entering the priesthood in the
A minority of comments on Famiglia Cristiana's website said
Mahony, 76, should attend the conclave which is open only to
cardinals - the "princes of the Church" - under the age of
"Absolutely YES," wrote Francescana_Secolare. "It amazes me
that a Catholic newspaper should ask the question ... Should
we doubt the action of the Holy Spirit inside the conclave?"
On a similar vein, marcocspt wrote: "Thank goodness the Lord
did not use opinion polls to choose and confirm the apostles
... Obviously I choose not to answer your question."