Catholics United have launched a petition against Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony attending the conclave in the Vatican, to chose a successor for Pope Benedict XIV.

The association of Catholics in California, Catholics United, say the Cardinal who has been stripped of his public duties in the Church, due to his mishandling of child sex abuse claims, should not be involved in this historic decision.

However, on Tuesday morning Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, an Italian cardinal of the Catholic Church, told Gazzetta Del Sud that only a person of high authority in the Catholic Church could tell Mahony not to attend.

The petition entitled “Cardinal Mahony: Stay Home” asks, “If a Cardinal is stripped of public ministry in his diocese, why should he be rewarded with being allowed to vote for the next pope?”

They add, “As faithful Catholics and people of faith who love the Church, we ask that you refrain from attending the Papal Conclave and recuse yourself from voting for the next Pope.

“Please do not bring further scandal to our Church that has already been rocked by the sex abuse crisis by attending the Papal Conclave. You have been disciplined and you have lost your ability to have a voice within our Church.”

One of Italy’s most popular magazines Famiglia Cristiana also released an online poll on the topic of Mahony’s possible presences at the conclave. Some argued that the conclave would be led by the Holy Spirit and alleged sinners should attend.

In January this year records were released by the LA Times showing Mahony and other Catholic Church leaders discussing the cover up of crimes by priests during the late 1980s.

In 2007 Mahony’s diocese reached a settlement of $600 million with 500 alleged victims. Now files on 100 other accused clerics, dating from the 1980s, have been released by the Archdiocese.

Regardless of this Mahoney is still part of the 117-member conclave who will meet in the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican, to decide on the new pope.

The 76-year-old Cardinal took part in the conclave which voted Joseph Ratzinger in as leader of the Catholic Church in 2005. Pope Benedict is the oldest Pope to have been voted into the position. He will now step down from the position on 28th February.


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