Cardinal Mahony says Vatican told him to attend conclave


Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, waits for the start of Pope Benedict XVI’s final general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Feb. 27. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony expressed “amazement” at calls that he withdraw from the upcoming papal conclave because of his record on clergy sex abuse, and said that the Vatican, acting through its ambassador to the United States, had instructed him to take part in the election of the next pope.

“I’m here because the Holy Father appointed me a cardinal in 1991, and the primary job of a cardinal, the number one job, is actually the election of a new pope should a vacancy occur,” the cardinal told Catholic News Service Feb. 28, two days after arriving in Rome.

“Without my even having to inquire, the nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, ‘I have had word from the highest folks in the Vatican: you are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave’,” the cardinal said.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, replied to a request for comment that the cardinal’s statement “can be understood in light of the communique of the Secretariat of State that insisted on the importance of not giving in to external pressures that might limit the freedom of the electors and the conclave.”

The communique in question, issued Feb. 23, defended the electors’ freedom as a “guarantee of a choice … based on evaluations addressed solely for the good of the church,” and condemned attempts to influence the papal election “through public opinion that is often based on judgements that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living.”

Advocates for sex-abuse victims have urged Cardinal Mahony, 77, to abstain from voting in the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI because of evidence that he mishandled cases of pedophile priests during his time as archbishop of Los Angeles.

Acting under court order Jan. 31, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released thousands of pages of personnel files which suggest that Cardinal Mahony, who retired as archbishop in 2011, worked to protect accused priests from criminal investigation beginning in the 1980s.

The cardinal’s successor, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, cited the files when he announced that Cardinal Mahony would “no longer have any administrative or public duties” in the archdiocese. Archbishop Gomez later added that the cardinal remains a bishop in “good standing,” with “full rights to celebrate the holy sacraments of the church and to minister to the faithful without restriction.”

Cardinal Mahony said he was “amazed” at the controversy over the Los Angeles files, claiming that the salient information about sex abuse in them could be found in a 22-page report available on the archdiocese’s website since 2004.

“There are some new things in the files that came out, but as far as I know I don’t find anything in there disqualifying,” he said.

The cardinal said that criticisms of his record on sex abuse unfairly applied latter-day standards to what was normal practice at the time.

“People say, ‘well, why didn’t you call the police?’ In those days no one reported these things to the police, usually at the request of families,” he said. “What I did in those years was consistent with what everybody did, in the Boy Scouts, in public schools, private schools, across the country.”

Cardinal Mahony arrived in Rome the day after Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, 74, announced he would not participate in the conclave because he did not want media attention focused on him, following reports that three priests and a former priest had accused him of “inappropriate conduct” with them going back to the 1980s.

(On March 3, Cardinal O’Brien publicly asked forgiveness for “times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal,” and announced that he would “play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”)

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37 Responses to Cardinal Mahony says Vatican told him to attend conclave

  1. Duane Lamers says:

    There are at least a couple organizations operating in the US that seize on every claim of abuse and call for the heads of those accused, even without investigating whether the claims are valid. They do not care because their focus is not on fairness but on reacting to the complaint.

    Perhaps stronger action was not taken earlier to remove the pedophiles from ministry because the bishops themselves, often enough, could not and did not appreciate the enormity of the offenses because of the incomplete understanding they may have had of life outside clerical circles.

    Agreed, that can no longer be an excuse. All clergy should be held accountable for failure to expose criminal behavior, and this accountability must be explained thoroughly and repeatedly during the years of training and formation.

  2. Tom Salamone says:

    What everyone did back then? The Boy Scouts? This man is a prince of the Catholic Church which is supposed to be the Earthly representative of God. It is supposed to be holy. He had a flock to minister to – to protect from the forces of evil. He didn’t do his job. He says he did what everyone did “back then” so is amazed people today are upset he allowed child molesters to continue to work their evil. What has happened to my church?

  3. Carol LaSalle says:

    All the rest of us can do is pray for this man because I just don’t think he will ever ‘get it?’ He is so focused on himself and protecting his ego that all else pales in comparison.

  4. Tom Salamone says:

    No longer be an excuse? No longer? In my years “of training” for adulthood I never had formal classes on the ethics of having sex with children yet I know it is wrong. We have to explain that it is wrong while teaching men to be priests? And further, to feel we must educate them that they have a responsibility to report incidents when they become aware is beyond understanding. Are these guys humans? Is a cardinal a human with a normal brain? If we all know a wrong when we see it and know what is the right thing to do, why should we not expect a prince of the church to have the same level of awareness? I still cannot understand what has happened to my church. Not my faith, but the church.

  5. florin says:

    March 3: i don’t believe this, not at all. Most are apprehensive of Mahoney’s presence because he has promoted himself too often, and has not stood with the Church as he should have. He is now whining on twitter about his ‘martyrdom’ and about how brave and nobel he is…for shame!

  6. florin says:

    All Mahoney had to do, all any of those Bishops or Cardinals or Pastors had to do was to ask themselves if they would have allowed these abusers of children to be in charge of their own nieces and nephews…to be alone with them. Many abusers were sent back to work with children. Even if they were considered ‘cured’ they should have been given a desk job far away from contact with children. You don’t send an alcoholic to work in a bar or a diabetic to work in a bakery…some common sense was needed, that’s all.

  7. florin says:

    Since Mahoney is being so public and arrogant about all this, he should himself be thoroughly investigated…a normal leader would have known not to do as he did…so there’s something wrong with him.

  8. Donna Ruth says:

    So, who named him Bishop? And who named him Cardinal?

  9. TM says:

    The higher ups told him to be there….

    As I read this, I got to thinking about the job of a Cardinal, how he is supposed to fulfill a special service to the Holy See, and the figure of the Roman Pontiff. But His Eminence seems to be using the Vatican as cover for himself, as if they are making decisions for him. It seems completely antithetical to the role of Cardinal and the service he is supposed to render. Go figure.

  10. Theresa says:

    Is it possible he is hoping to be voted pope?

    His actions and reasoning do not reflect the logic one expects from a prince of the church, it is quite sad. As witnesses we are obligated to offer the prayers he so obviously needs.

  11. jlajimenez says:

    Mahony is trying to plead mental reservation. He’s obviously rationalizing through this and is trying to keep any shred of respect he can gather. Its not going to work. His can you slide under the rug those victims of homosexual pedophelia? Just horrible…

    And the problem is active homosexuality in the priesthood:

  12. Al Bently says:

    I enjoyed this animation of Cardinal Mahony being “interviewed” for his misdeeds. It was hilarious but also very accurate:

  13. I think that the overriding point is being missed…he other failings whatever that may be, has nothing to do with his obligation as a Cardinal in the election of a new Pope…As long as he wears the Red, he does not have the right to refuse to vote…

  14. Theresa says:

    Steven I don’t think that is accurate because the Scottish Cardinal is not attending after recent allegations surfaced accusing him of sexual misconduct. Plus Cardinals over the age of 80 are not allowed to vote.

    It’s confusing because the role of a cardinal , as I understand , is to vote in the conclave.

  15. David Lorenz says:

    The number one job of a cardinal is decidedly not to elect the next Pope. The number one job is to treat people with care and respect … especially children. Come to think of it, this is the number one job of just being a human being. His actions make me question whether Mahony is either a cardinal or a human being

  16. John Fisher says:

    Mahoney is a vain man. So much so that every trial or wound of outrageous fortune (his sin and abuses) are turned into more fuel for self promotion. If we had a properly functioning canon law system his derelicts concerning doctrine, morals, and liturgical norms would lead to his being censured and given canonical penalties. This is NOT just about the sex abuse cover up. Its about his whole egocentric twisting of reality when measured against objective catholic criteria as a bishop and cardinal. We do not want corrupt or corrupting cardinals in conclave! O’Brien is more of a man than Mahoney. Why? Because he saw the WAY he had acted after sin was also part of the problem. AS for prominent members of the curia wanting him in Rome for the conclave. Who and who cares as we know there are unsuitable cardinals in the curia. We know and we pray Mahoney’s presence will remind the cardinals of the error in making “Modernists” priests, bishops and cardinals in the Church.

  17. Theresa says:

    Amen! Please people pray because whether we like it or not this man and others like him are entering the conclave. God help us if one emerges pope.IT CAN HAPPEN. How much will we own if we are shown how interiorly corrupt some are and we failed to heed the call
    To pray?

  18. Rev. Richard A. Bucci says:

    This man has been the darling of Hollywood and the liberal press for decades. He presided at the degradation and betrayal of the Church’s teachings, especially at those ludicrous “Religious Education” bacchanals. If you needed to know what he was made of, you could have found out by reviewing how he treated Mother Angelica when she criticized him. Now you are SHOCKED at what he did. Baloney.

  19. Theresa says:

    Dear Rev. I am not shocked just quite concerned we will expend more time commenting about him, myself included, then praying for him to see the light when he enters the conclave.

  20. Holy Spirit Guide The Church.

  21. Mary says:

    Mr. Mahoney is a horrible individual. Is he serious? One priest/perhaps/even two or three, but he had the records going back to Archbishop Cantwell through Cardinal Manning. There were hundreds of abusive men. At the very least, he should have forbidden them to practice. For God’s sake, this is all so much nonsense. Read and practice the Sermon on the Mount. Beyond this, the rest is man made simply to control people. Mahoney is an old fool. As if I would relinquish my free will to old men in dresses! Plesae

  22. roger says:

    Please pray instead of Judging…Priest,nuns,Bishops and Brothers need your support in their ministry…Often time they are alone ,in need of company and so stray. Pray for them because criticizing will not help the past or future.#Holy Spirit guide your Church.

  23. roger says:

    The Cardinal have the right to vote regardless of his situation. Peter betrayed Jesus though he was given the key..When will we realize the Church is made up of sinners?….the Church will never be prefect becuz it is Human though Divine…He all fall short..I am also Adventist who admire the Church Fathers but dislike the Mary worship and statue building.

  24. florin says:

    March5th, Yes Roger, St. Peter betrayed Jesus but then he said he was sorry and was faithful forever after…Card. Mahoney whines and whines about how he is being persecuted and oh – ‘poor me’…sorry, he has always been centered on himself and has not been faithful to Church teachings at all times but, yes, he has a legal right to vote as does Card. O’Brien…but Card. O’Brien stepped back out of shame and sorrow for what he had done…Mahoney should, perhaps, follow his example.

  25. Claude Javier says:

    Roger, we Catholics do not worship
    Mary, we revere her – we look upon her with
    love and great respect. Statues, besides their value as art, are visual reminders of people who lived holy lives. The Catholic Church for all of its problems celebrates the
    Mother of Jesus as no other Christian church. That is one of its greatest attractions for me. Peace be with you.

  26. JJ says:

    Anyone here so quick to pull on the trigger
    To judge a man without out knowing him
    or having full knowledge on a case by case
    basis and it revealing particulars of the
    parties, are not acting like a true catholic.
    A true catholic is silent and first listens to everyone to all parties.
    He does not point his finger to his brother but, acts to help him
    and how to make for the better – for everyone , for all.
    Leading by example. His example superseeds what he preeches at all times. +++ .

  27. In Mat 25:1-3 Jesus tells us regarding Church leaders to “practice and observe whatever the tell you, but not what they do for they preach but do not practice.” Certainly many Church leaders have caused scandal and have sinned, even Peter. Can anyone tell me where Cardinal Mahony, or any other Catholic Church leader taught that we should abuse children? No? Refer back to Mat 25:1-3. By the way, why did not Jesus throw Judas out? He knew he was stealing.

  28. John Fisher says:

    The last two comments show why and how the abuses in the Church grow and very few sift the wheat from the straw. We defer because we hide our weakness and inability to act by calling it charity and being kind.

  29. Tom Salamone says:

    John Fisher – you are correct. That, and a leadership composed of a bunch of old men parading in gold and making slow gestures with eyes cast upwards make me worry about how long my church will be around.

  30. JJ says:

    My Father was not perfect.
    Was Your father’s perfect Mr. Fisher & Mr. Salamone?
    Who can say, “I am the perfect Man/Individual”?
    Who can rise and say, “I am always the Best”?
    Can you? ..or you?
    What is the perfect recipe for ‘strength’ for the Vatican See- Fisher?
    What do you propose as the ‘ultimate best model’ to follow for Vatican Leadership than who&what it already obeys to- Salamone?

    Criticizing (I repeat, The Throwing of The Stones) is what’s easy.
    Do you Adhere perfectly and with all of your strengh around the clock?

  31. Tom Salamone says:

    JJ: You are correct in saying no one is perfect. However, most people expect those in a leadership role to be up to their task. You need an accountant? You expect someone very, very good with numbers and very, very honest. If not good with numbers you fire him. If dishonest you have him arrested.. You need leaders of a church – the physical representation of your faith, your interpretation of God – you expect them to be very, very moral and particularly ethical. They will of course be human with human failings. However can we accept human failings in our church leaders that reach levels of abomination? What went on with the sex predators and their cover up was an abomination. These men went beyond being imperfect humans. Of course none of us can say he is perfect. I do presume most of us can say we are heads and shoulders better men than the predators and their protectors. Our faith is beautiful. I no longer think the same of the church and this is said with sadness as the rites back when I was a kid were beautiful and seemed immutable, rock solid. I thought the priests who taught us to be altar boys and the brothers who taught us in school were good men. The nuns who instructed us in our catechism were good women. Their leaders are not. There isn’t a one who didn’t know of the abomination. I find this sad, that’s all.

  32. Rev. Richard A. Bucci says:

    We are not talking first impressions here. Did you read ANY of the grand jury investigation. He was doing it for YEARS. When you take into account how he savaged Cardinal Law and demanded he resign, then he is also a hypocrite. You should look that up in a concordance sometime.

  33. Theresa says:

    I may be responding to the wrong person. To those accusing us of rushing to judgement without full knowledge. The report was posted online and his words were quoted. Ma honey,s self stated defence written on his blog,; made it worse for him in my opinion. We are speaking about crimes against children. There is no defense deliberately sheltering known paedophilies. NONE! The mere fact that he keeps trying to defend his actions reveals so much about his character. For the good of the church he should have stayed behind humbly and quietly.

  34. JJ says:

    To God
    For His Beloved Church
    We Pray +
    For No Other Will
    Can Prevail
    Over His +

    No Where,
    No How,
    No One +

  35. Tom Salamone says:

    “The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay nearly $10 million to settle four clergy sex abuse cases.

    Church attorney J. Michael Hennigan confirmed the $9.9 million settlement Tuesday for the cases, which alleged abuse by former priest Michael Baker.

    Two cases were to go to trial soon and a judge had said attorneys for the alleged victims could also pursue punitive damages.

    Recently released files show Baker met with Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1986 and confessed to molesting two brothers for nearly seven years.

    Mahony sent Baker for psychological treatment but eventually put him back in ministry, where he molested again.

    Baker was convicted of molesting one boy in 2007. Two of the latest plaintiffs are that boy’s brothers.

    Mahony is in Rome helping select the next pope.”

    And this guy has Gods ear to elect our next Pope? I cannot believe our church allows this to go on. Our faith wouldn’t.

  36. Carmealette says:

    To Whomever It May Concern:

    One other concern/question that I have is, why haven’t we heard from SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS, (SNAP), during all the hoopla?? That group, along with all other groups, that support victims of child abuse DESERVE TO BE HEARD, DURING THE PAPAL TRANSITION!! Those poor people who, as BABIES HAD TO ENDURE ALL OF THE PAIN, SUFFERING, HUMILIATION & MISERY, AT THE HANDS OF THESE PROTECTED PEDOPHILES!!! Why has the media virtually IGNORED THESE GROUPS, AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME??? Are we really FORGETTING ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN, ALTOGETHER???

    “If anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.” (Matthew 18:6 & Mark 9:42)

    “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck than to face the punishment in store for harming one of these little ones.” (Luke 17: 2)


  37. Cab Calloway says:

    Oh Boy, Old Rog just does not get it. One does not have to have been through seminary to know that certain behaviors, such as diddling little children is wrong–and just plain sick. For him to say that it happened in other organizations besides the CC is just plain stupid. He and the priests involved were held to a far higher standard because each priest is an alter Christus.

    During all the sex abuse ugliness, we never heard Christ’s own brutal words regarding those to mislead children. I refer to what He said about a mil stone and the depth of the sea for those who abuse children. Nope, not a peep out of Mahoney or any of those other bishops, some of whom not only covered up for their own priests but were guilty of committing abuse themselves.

    Yes, I do belief in that old saying that the floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. Yes indeed.

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