MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) – The former archbishop of San Francisco said Monday that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has a rightful place among Vatican officials who will choose the next pope, even though Mahony has been battered in recent days by disclosures about his role in covering up clergy sex abuse.
The comments by Cardinal William Levada, a high-ranking Vatican official until recently, came in the wake of a grass-roots campaign to shame Mahony into refraining from participating because of his role protecting sexually abusive priests.
Mahony left for Rome over the weekend after recently released church documents showed he had covered up for other priests who raped and molested children.
“There are some victims groups for whom enough is never enough, so we have to do our jobs as best we see it,” said Levada, 76, who spoke with reporters from a Menlo Park seminary as he prepared for his trip to the Vatican for the papal conclave.
“He has apologized for errors in judgment that were made,” Levada said. “I believe he should be at the conclave.”
On Monday, Mahony took to social media and his own personal blog to write about persecution and forgiving one’s enemies. He said he has a special prayer group for people who “cannot forgive me for my past hurts and offenses,” including members of the media, attorneys, protesters and those who “hate and despise me.”
He also tweeted from Rome, writing: “Anyone interested in loving your enemies, or doing good to those who persecute you? See my blog for today. Wow, Jesus is demanding.”
Levada said Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s decision Monday to step down as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and to opt out of the conclave will “provide the freedom to do a good independent investigation and decide on appropriate measures to take on this case.”
Levada, who leaves for Rome on Tuesday, retired in 2012 after spending six years as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog, which also defrocked pedophile priests.
He played a key role in several church sex-abuse reforms. While serving previously as an archbishop in California and Oregon, he kept some accused molesters in the church and failed to share some allegations with police or parishioners.
On Monday, Levada drew a sharp divide between gay men and pedophile priests.
“By nature homosexuality is a not a predatory activity, it is a sexual activity that the Catholic church does not condone,” he said. By contrast, he said pedophile priests are violating the sanctity and purity of young people.
Levada also said bureaucratic reforms at the Vatican will require a lot of attention from the next pope. He said he’ll be looking for a candidate with deep faith, someone who has shown leadership and has language skills. He said youth is also a factor, and he extinguished any rumors that the next pope might be from the U.S.
“I don’t know what the Las Vegas oddsmakers are saying today,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s likely that we would see an American pope. It would be an additional complexity for an American pope to have to deal with the perception that some of his decisions might be perceived to be dictated by American governmental policy.”
Levada also said he respects Pope Benedict’s decision to withhold findings from an investigation into Vatican leaks to cardinals voting on his successor.
“If his judgment is that there’s nothing in that report that’s necessary for the cardinals then I think we can rely on that,” he said. “Pope Benedict is a man of very good judgment.”
Levada and Mahony will join more than 100 cardinals on Thursday in Rome to begin the historical process that will choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, whose decision to retire took worldwide Catholics by surprise.
Levada, whose Vatican job was held by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI, said in all his years of service, he never anticipated being called to a conclave.
“Never. Never,” he said. “It’s very challenging. It’s pretty exciting.”
Prior to the election, the cardinals meet and discuss the qualities of the candidates.
“We begin to make some judgments,” he said.
Then, in silence, the cardinals vote, sometimes repeatedly, tucking ballots into a closely observed box which is then openly counted in front of them.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- 7 common ways to get sued by your employees
- Why it might be time to upgrade your toilet
- Arizona teachers are building a better future by using technology in the classroom
- How to make summer reading fun for the whole family
- How to find relief for chronic joint pain
- Can the NBA Lottery save the Suns?
- Skip Urgent Care: 5 ailments you can treat with telemedicine
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments