As Catholic cardinals begin the process to elect a new Pope who will succeed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a sex abuse victims’ network has named a “Dirty Dozen” of cardinals who are contenders for the role of next pope.
The list, compiled by Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and based on each individual’s actions and statements re-child abuse and a Church cover-up in the church, includes some frontrunners for the position.
The cardinals on the list have not responded to it. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said: “It is not up to SNAP to decide who comes to conclave and who is chosen.” SNAP’s executive director, David Clohessy, said the group had focused on candidates who had the best chances of being nominated pope.
The following 12 papal candidates are the ones that we are most worried about becoming the next pope. These 12 were chosen based exclusively on their actions and/or public comments about child sex abuse and cover up in the church. Sources include mainstream media accounts, legal filings and victims’ experiences. The names are in no particular order.
1) Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Mexico
He blamed the media for “attacks on the church,” alleging “over-reporting” of church sex cases. He claimed that there are no “documented” cases of abuse against minors in Mexico. He also repeatedly minimized and concealed multiple child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera who traveled between his native Mexico and the Los Angeles archdiocese, molesting kids in both places. Aguilar Rivera’s current whereabouts are unknown.
2) Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Honduras
He said much of the U.S. media was anti-Catholic and that the major networks and newspapers “made themselves protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution of the church.” He also opposes bishops turning allegations of clerical sexual abuse over to civil authorities for investigation and possible prosecution. “I would be willing to go to jail before harming one of my priests. I am not a policeman,” he said.
3) Cardinal Timothy Dolan, New York
In August of 2011, Dolan took minimal steps against Fr. Jamie Duenas, who repeatedly abused a teenage girl who worked for him and was arrested. Instead of helping the police or the victim, Dolan attacked the victim on his official website for going back to work after the first assault. That same year, Dolan kept silent for nine months about the case of Brother Lawrence Gordon, an assistant principal who had child porn on his computer. Such delays and secrecy give predators ample time to potentially destroy evidence, intimidate victims, discredit witnesses, threaten whistleblowers, and fabricate alibis. Internal church documents released by a judge last summer show that Dolan devised a secret plan to pay pedophile priests $20,000 each to quietly leave the ministry. Some of the clerics went elsewhere, but Dolan warned no one. At least 12 priests are known to have gotten payouts. In 2007, Dolan publicly and vehemently denied paying off offender priests after it was discovered that one notorious priest child sex offender, Fr Franklyn Becker, was given money.
4) Cardinal Angelo Scola, Italy
In 2010, when Pope Benedict’s role in the sex abuse and cover up crisis was questioned in news accounts, Scola publicly called the coverage an “iniquitous humiliation.” In a 2010 homily delivered at St. Peter’s Basilica, Scola referred to the clergy sex abuse crisis, offered no apology to victims and shifted blame and minimized church wrongdoing by stressing that pedophilia “concerns different environments and different categories of persons” outside the church.
5) Cardinal George Pell, Australia
He claims that church has been a victim of “smears” in the media about child abuse, there are no cover ups, and that it is untrue that the church officials are “inefficient” in handling child abuse cases. He worked to secure a court file in which it allegedly states that Pell was present when a boy spoke up about being raped by a priest. Pell called the victim’s statements “irresponsible and untrue.” Pell does not believe that the royal commission investigating clergy sex crimes and cover ups needs to take place.
6) Cardinal Dominik Duka, Czech Republic
He claimed that reporting about the abuse of kids in Irish schools was an attempt to “push the church from its position in the upbringing and education” of children. (It’s not clear why he feels he has expertise in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases that took place in Ireland.) He also claimed that only 10% of accusations against priests are proven.
7) Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, Italy
He does not believe that a bishop should be required to report a priest who has been accused of sex abuse, saying “if a priest cannot confide in his bishop for fear of being denounced it would mean there is no more liberty of conscience.” He blames the child sex abuse epidemic on the “homosexual infiltration” of the clergy.
8) Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington D.C.
In 2010, he refused to take action about Fr. Walter Salisbury – a priest who had been convicted twice of abusing children – who was quietly sent to Maine and continued working there, without any warning whatsoever to parishioners and the public. In 2004, he refused to help warn West Virginia families about an abusive Pittsburgh priest (Fr. Jack Hoehl) who was practicing in that state as a counselor. He refused, in two dioceses, to take the simple public safety step of posting the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused priests on his diocesan websites. (Some 30 US bishops have done this.)
9) Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Quebec, Canada
He gave a homily dedicated to clerical sex abuse, talking about the need to open pathways for victims to come forward, but reportedly refused to meet with victims. He claims that church’s abuse response should be a model for others. He was involved in the recent Cardinal O’Brien resignation, allegedly brokering the deal, which perpetuated the unhealthy practice of essentially letting wrongdoers determine their own punishment (instead of church supervisors clearly and publicly sanctioning those who commit or conceal misdeeds).
10) Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Boston
In 2008, a national church panel found that, for the second year in a row, O’Malley was violating the US bishops’ child sex abuse prevention policy.
According to other church officials, O’Malley was refusing to train all kids in his archdiocese how to avoid or stop being victimized. O’Malley also failed to discipline a single individual on his staff for this violation. In 2006, in a case with disturbing parallels to many earlier Boston pedophile priest cases, O’Malley moved very slowly in the case of a prominent Catholic hospital official who faces multiple allegations of sexually harassing employees. Under O’Malley’s watch, the archdiocesan abuse policy was revised, eliminating a provision that required the immediate removal of accused priests, and severely limited survivors’ access to archdiocesan files about their cases.
Also, under O’Malley’s leadership, the archdiocese “cleared” a very high percentage of accused priests (45%, whereas most diocese have a 10% clearance rate), and has also failed to rule on at least 15 cases. O’Malley was one of the last US bishops to post the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on his website, and when he did, he disingenuously left off roughly one third of the priests – those who worked for religious orders.
11) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Argentina
Sandri is closely tied to the controversial Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was a staunch and disingenuous supporter of Fr. Marcial Maciel. In 2004, at a basilica in Rome, Sandri also read a letter publicly supporting Maciel and spoke of his allegedly good works. Sandri remains a consummate Vatican insider. He’s spent roughly 40 years there.
12) Cardinal Peter Turkson, Ghana
He recently claimed that there were few child molesting clerics in Africa because they didn’t tolerate gay people there.