In my last post I highlighted a call by the writer Jody Bottum in 2010 at the website of the conservative journal First Things for the dismissal of Cardinal Sodano, a powerful figure at the Vatican and the man who is destined to lead the College of Cardinals in its election of a new pope. In that post I said that resistance to Cardinal Sodano reflects a moral instinct shared by Catholics from a variety of theological and cultural perspectives. To illustrate this shared moral conscience I am quoting at length from a recent article in the New York Times by the liberal Jason Berry echoing the similar point made by Jody Bottum in his First Things piece:
Benedict has one last chance to right some of the wrongs of the recent past by forcing out Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals and the man who, more than any other, embodies the misuse of power that has corrupted the church hierarchy…Cardinal Sodano ranks with the Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony as an egregious practitioner of the cover up. As John Paul II’s secretary of state, he pressured Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict, in two notorious cases.
In 1995, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër resigned as archbishop of Vienna, trailed by accusations, soon proven, that he had abused young men. Cardinal Ratzinger wanted the pope to speak out; Cardinal Sodano overruled him.
Cardinal Sodano also pressured Cardinal Ratzinger to abort a case filed in 1998 by several men accusing the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, of abusing them as seminarians. Cardinal Sodano was a longtime beneficiary of money and favors from Father Maciel. Priests who left the order told me he received at least $15,000 in cash.
Cardinal Ratzinger tabled the case until 2004 but, with John Paul dying, finally ordered an investigation. In 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict. Cardinal Sodano’s office then announced the Maciel proceeding was over, while people kept testifying. Benedict dismissed Father Maciel from ministry in 2006; he died in 2008. Still, Cardinal Sodano lavished praise on the Legion, despite the news that Father Maciel had several children.
In 2005, Cardinal Sodano was elected dean of the College of Cardinals, which will select the next pope. At 85 years old, he is too old to vote, though he will oversee the conclave, and will surely have his candidate…As Benedict leaves the crisis he inherited from John Paul to the cardinal who will become the next pope, he should do one sure thing before his Feb. 28 resignation: force out Cardinal Sodano. He owes that to