Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018
ROME

New sex-abuse allegations ahead of pope election

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)

Rome, March 7 - As the last cardinals made their
way to Rome this week ahead of the conclave to elect a new pope,
fresh priest sex-abuse allegations surfaced on Thursday as
advocates and victims called on the Church to make pedophilia a
central focus when considering a successor to Benedict XVI.
In Italy, a group campaigning against priest sex abuse on
Thursday called for Cardinal Domenico Calcagno to be banned from
electing a new pope.
Francesco Zanardi, the head of L'Abuso, said he he will be
in Rome Friday to "personally hand (Vatican Spokesman Federico)
Lombardi and the Vatican administrative office" a petition
signed by numerous people demanding that "Cardinal Calcagno
stays out of the conclave".
Zanardi accuses Calcagno, a former bishop of the northern
city of Savona, and two other recent bishops there of
systematically covering up cases of pedophilia in the diocese.
On Sunday, pedophilia victims appeared on Italian
television with accusations that Benedict knew of several cases
of priest sex abuse in Savona but never did anything about it.
The accusers, who made their statements on Italian
television program Le Iene, said that the Vatican failed to
press charges against several priests in the city of Savona who
victimized minors 10 years ago when then Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger was cardinal-prefect of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, whose role required investigating the
sexual abuse of minors by priests.
Presented as evidence on the program was a letter dated
September 8, 2003 and addressed to Ratzinger in which Calcagno
informed him of a priest who had been accused of pedophilia.
The priest, who was later transferred to another parish,
was sentenced to one year in jail last year.
In an unrelated case, an Italian consumer association is
pressing forward in its motion to investigate Cardinal Roger
Mahony and his role in allegedly covering up instances of priest
sex abuse in the United States.
On Thursday, Codacons filed a motion with Rome prosecutors
to convene with the leaders of US-based SNAP (Survivors Network
of those Abused by Priests) as expert witnesses.
Named in the motion were SNAP directors David Clohessy and
Barbara Dorris, who are in Rome advocating for issues related to
sex abuse in the Church to be a priority in electing a new pope
at the upcoming conclave.
Last Friday, Codacons submitted a request to investigate
Mahony if he went to Rome, which he did.
Shortly before arriving, the retired archbishop of Los
Angeles was summoned to answer questions under oath about a
visiting Mexican priest who in 1987 is believed to have molested
26 children.
In its initial motion, Codacons said "we must bring to
light whether there were any Italians who were victimized".
But advocates on Thursday also chose to look at members of
the Church hierarchy whose records on child sex abuse were
comparatively bright.
At a hotel in Rome, SNAP named three cardinals they said
were "promising" candidates for pope because of their record on
child sex-abuse claims.
The three were Cardinals Luis Antonio Tagle of the
Philippines and Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, and Archbishop
of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
Martin is a longshot candidate since he is not a cardinal,
while the other two have been named as "papabili", or papal
contenders.
SNAP said Cardinal Tagle is one of very few prelates who
have spoken clearly about the "culture of shame" that surrounds
victims of sex abuse and has been helpful in defrocking at least
one convicted priest.
At a Vatican abuse symposium in 2012, Tagle mentioned
coverups and argued that the church should stop "waiting for a
bomb" and instead prevent the scandal from happening, rather
than try to "prevent it from exploding".
The group applauded Cardinal Schoenborn for "famously and
publicly criticizing" Cardinal Angelo Sodano, now dean of the
College of Cardinals, for allegedly obstructing the
investigation of Schoenborn's predecessor, Cardinal Herman
Groer, who was accused of abusing children.
Schoenborn was later disciplined by Benedict for his
remarks.
SNAP lauded Martin, the primate of Ireland, for
acknowledging that there were likely thousands of abuse victims
throughout Ireland, and that the clergy abuse epidemic "will
shock us all".
"There's a real danger today of people saying the child
abuse scandal is over...It isn't over," Martin told the Irish
press in 2012 as the scope of priest sex abuse in the country
continued to unfold.
Martin, SNAP underlines, "also went against the norm when
he willingly turned over documents to secular officials relating
to abusive priests".
SNAP director Clohessy said the group was not officially
"endorsing" anyone.
"While SNAP has serious doubts about the role nearly every
top Catholic official has played in the Church's continuing
abuse and coverup crisis, the group is highlighting three
potential 'papabili', calling them 'promising'".
On Wednesday the group named a 'Dirty Dozen' of cardinals
they said should not be candidates for pope.
Those cardinals are: Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico;
Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras; Timothy Michael Dolan of
New York; Angelo Scola and Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican
Secretary of State, both from Italy; Australia's George Pell;
Dominik Duka of the Czech Republic; Donald Wuerl of Washington
DC; Marc Ouellet from Quebec; Sean O'Malley from Boston;
Argentina's Leonardo Sandri; and Peter Turkson from Ghana.
The Vatican replied that it would not be swayed by the
list.

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