Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has said the next pope must deal with Bishops who allowed abusive priests to remain in ministry.
The Boston Globe reports that the Cardinal claimed in Rome that the next Catholic Church leader must adopt measures to deal with bishops whose ‘malfeasanc’ permitted child sex abusers to stay on as priests.
He said in a Rome interview that the successor to Pope Benedict XVI will need to continue Benedict’s campaign to get bishops across the world to adopt policies for dealing with accused abusers.
As dozens of cardinals gathered at the Vatican, Cardinal O’Malley said that should include procedures for disciplining bishops who protect abusive priests.
The report says that US bishops adopted a zero-tolerance policy on clergy sexual abuse a decade ago, requiring removal from ministry of any priest credibly accused of abusing a minor.
The paper claims that some church leaders have not followed it, with the bishop of Kansas City convicted last fall of failing to report child abuse by a priest. The church has yet to sanction him.
Cardinal O’Malley said: “There needs to be a path for disciplining bishops. Right now, it’s not terribly clear, but it’s something the next pope will have to deal with.
“Without a protocol in place, it falls to the Vatican to decide what to do with each errant bishop on a case-by-case basis. My point is always that if you don’t have policies, you’ll be improvising, and when you improvise, you make a lot of mistakes.”
O’Malley is among the US cardinals gathered before the conclave to elect the new Pope.
He said: “Being part of the papal process is surrealistic but also moving.
“Growing up a Catholic and knowing a little bit about these traditions and the way the Holy Father is selected in the church- it’s a far cry from seeing it up close and being part of it.”
Asked in the Globe interview what he was looking for in a potential candidate, O’Malley said: “The next pope must relate well to the universal church.
“The Catholic Church is growing quickly in Africa, and more than 40 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America.
“Pope Benedict’s successor also needs the spiritual and intellectual capacity to deal with the church’s many challenges. Governance of the Vatican is also an issue.
“We want the Holy Father to have a good team of people around him in a way that will support his ministry and allow him to focus on his teaching office, which we see as so important.”
The Globe also reports that one reporter at the news conference said she had a question from her daughter: Would O’Malley continue to wear his ‘cappuccino robe’ if elected pope?
The report said that O’Malley, a Capuchin friar whose order’s name derives from the brown hooded habits its members wear, blushed and chuckled with his audience.
He replied: “I have worn this uniform for over 40 years, and I presume I will wear it until I die, because I don’t expect to be elected pope. So I don’t expect to have a change of wardrobe.”