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Thursday, February 14, 2013

John Allen on Cardinal Sodano's "troubling record"

In my last post I highlighted the importance of Cardinal Schonborn and Cardinal Sodano in the fierce struggle now in play over the direction of the Catholic Church. John Allen, arguably the leading reporter on the Vatican in the English language, explains in greater detail the significance of Cardinal Sodano and his connection to the abuse crisis:
At least one other cardinal linked to the abuse scandals is destined to be even more prominent over the next month: Angelo Sodano, former Secretary of State under John Paul II and currently the dean of the College of Cardinals. It was Sodano who delivered a brief tribute to Benedict XVI when he made his surprise announcement Monday, and he helped the pope celebrate the Ash Wednesday liturgy tonight.
In his role as dean, Sodano will preside over functions after Benedict steps down and before the new pope is chosen, including the much-watched "Mass for the election of the Roman Pontiff" that marks the last public event before the conclave.
Critics charge Sodano has a troubling record on the abuse crisis for at least three reasons.
First, he's known as a stalwart defender in the Vatican of the late Mexican Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The Legionaries later acknowledged that Maciel was guilty of misconduct, including sexual abuse of former members. As late as 2005, while the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was reaching the conclusion that Maciel was guilty, the Secretariat of State under Sodano issued a public statement denying there was any case against him.
Second, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna charged in May 2010 that it was Sodano who blocked an investigation against Schönborn's predecessor, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, when Groër faced charges of sexual abuse in the 1990s. Although Schönborn later apologized for reprimanding a fellow cardinal, he never retracted the substance of the charge.
Third, it was Sodano who sparked international outrage last year by using a platform during Pope Benedict's Easter Mass to compare criticism of the church on the sexual abuse crisis to "petty gossip."

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