SNAP blacklists 12 cardinals for pope; Cardinal Timothy Dolan on list
ROME (CNN) – A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a “Dirty Dozen” list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims.
Their presence on the list is based “on their actions and/or public comment about child sex abuse and cover up in the church,” the group said.
The list includes Roman Catholic cardinals from several countries.
SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on media reports, legal filings and victims’ statements.
The 12 cardinals on SNAP’s list are:
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Cardinal Dominik Duka
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga
Cardinal Patrick O’Malley
Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal Norberto Rivera
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri
Cardinal Angelo Scola
Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The cardinals named on the list have not yet responded to the move by SNAP.
But when asked about it by CNN, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, said: “We believe it is not up to SNAP to decide who comes to conclave and who is chosen … cardinals can decide themselves without asking SNAP for advice.”
Monday, SNAP also called for some of the older cardinals to remove themselves from the meetings held before the election of the new pope, arguing that some have been accused of complicity in protecting priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Cardinals from around the globe have been summoned to Rome to take part in the process of choosing the next pontiff, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week.
As of midday, 113 of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are in Rome, according to Lombardi. To be eligible to be a part of the group, a cardinal must be under the age of 80.
The two cardinal-electors who are not yet there are Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, who should arrive later Wednesday, and Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Vietnam, who is arriving Thursday.
No date has yet been proposed for the secret election, or conclave, to select the former pontiff’s successor.
‘Silence didn’t work’
SNAP is intentionally focusing on candidates with a realistic chance of being named pope, its executive director David Clohessy said Wednesday as the group released its list.
“The single quickest and most effective step would be for the next pope to clearly discipline, demote, denounce and even defrock cardinals and bishops who are concealing child sex crimes. We think that’s the missing piece,” he said.
The new pope should order each bishop around the world to hand over “every piece of paper he has on proven, admitted or credibly accused child-molesting clerics to law enforcement,” Clohessy said.
Barbara Dorris, victims’ outreach director for SNAP, said: “The short answer is we’ve tried silence, silence didn’t work, so we have to speak out. We have to do everything we can to get this information out there.”
The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals in recent years — and the new pope will be under pressure to deal more effectively with a crisis that has undermined public confidence in the church.
SNAP says it believes it is vital to look at how the world’s bishops have handled claims of abuse by priests because the crisis is far from over.
“This scandal, we believe, has yet to surface in most nations. It’s shameless spin and deliberate deception to claim otherwise. It’s tempting to reassure the public and the parishioners by making this claim. But it’s also irresponsible,” a statement on SNAP’s website said.
“Clergy sex crimes and cover-ups remain deeply hidden in the vast majority of nations (where most Catholics live), and has really only become widely known — and barely addressed — in the U.S. about a decade ago and in a few European countries even more recently.”
Media leaks concern
A news conference scheduled by American cardinals for Wednesday, following media briefings on Monday and Tuesday, was canceled at short notice.
Asked if the Vatican had told the American cardinals to stop their daily media briefings, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica suggested that the details of what was discussed in the general congregations were not meant to be publicized.
“It’s not up to Father Lombardi or myself to tell them what to do,” he said. “It could be that among themselves they realized that there are different ways and different methods of getting things out.”
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said via e-mail that the U.S. cardinals were committed to transparency and had wanted to share “a process-related overview of their work” with the public “in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality” of the general congregations.
“Due to concerns over accounts being reported in the Italian press, which breached confidentiality, the College of Cardinals has agreed not to give interviews,” she said.
In total, 153 cardinals gathered Wednesday at the Vatican for a third day of meetings, known as general congregations, before they set the timetable for the election.
The cardinals spoke about new evangelization, restructuring of the church hierarchy, or curia, and the need for good governance of the church, Lombardi said.
A five-minute limit has been imposed on cardinals speaking at the meetings, although the microphone is not being switched off if they run over the time allowed.
The cardinals have decided to meet twice Thursday, in the morning and afternoon, in order to “intensify the rhythm of work,” Lombardi said.
Video shown at a Vatican news conference showed workers preparing the Sistine Chapel for the secretive conclave.
An elevated floor is being put in place to protect the elaborate mosaic tiling, said Lombardi, where seats will be placed for the cardinals.
The Sistine Chapel and its ornate ceiling by Michelangelo are normally a must-see for tourists in Rome, but it was closed to the public beginning Tuesday afternoon to allow for preparations to take place.
Abuse Victims Ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN Published: September 13, 2011
Human rights lawyers and victims of clergy sexual abuse filed a complaint on Tuesday urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate and prosecute Pope Benedict XVI and three top Vatican officials for crimes against humanity for what they described as abetting and covering up the rape and sexual assault of children by priests.
The formal filing of nearly 80 pages by two American advocacy groups, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and the Vatican accountable in an international court for sexual abuse by priests.
“The high-level officials of the Catholic church who failed to prevent and punish these criminal actions,” the complaint says, “have, to date, enjoyed absolute impunity.”
A spokeswoman at the court said the prosecutor’s office would examine the papers, “as we do with all such communications.” The first step will be “to analyze whether the alleged crimes fall under the court’s jurisdiction,” Florence Olara, the prosecutor’s spokeswoman said.
Complaints about the Vatican and child abuse by Roman Catholic priests have been received at the court before, court records showed. But Ms. Olara said details were not normally disclosed by the court unless a case went forward.
Lawyers familiar with the international court said it was unlikely the complaint against the Vatican would fit the court’s mandate to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the spokesman for the Vatican, said he had no comment.
Vatican officials have often said that the decisions about priests accused of abuse are made by bishops — not by the Vatican hierarchy — and that the church is far more decentralized than is widely believed.
But the lawyers and abuse victims from the United States and Europe who held a news conference at the court on Tuesday said their action was necessary because all the investigations and prosecutions of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in various countries had not been sufficient to prevent continuing crimes and cover-ups.
Two of the victims whose cases are highlighted in the filing say the priests who sexually abused them simply moved to different countries and are still in ministry working with children, with the knowledge of church superiors. “National jurisdictions can’t really get their arms around this,” said Pamela Spees, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who helped prepare the filing. “Prosecuting individual instances of child molestation or sexual assault has not gotten at the larger systemic problem here. Accountability is the goal, and the I.C.C. makes the most sense, given that it’s a global problem.”
In addition to Pope Benedict XVI, the filing asks the court to prosecute Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the previous secretary of state and the current dean of the College of Cardinals; and Cardinal William J. Levada, who is head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office designated to receive cases of clergy sexual abuse that are forwarded by bishops.
A central question is whether the accusations will fit the court’s mandate. The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after July 1, 2002, when the court opened. It is independent of the United Nations and has jurisdiction in the 117 countries that so far have ratified the Rome Statute that created the court. Italy, Germany and Belgium are signatories, while the Vatican and the United States are not.
The filing cites five cases in which priests have been accused of abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States; the priests in these cases are from Belgium, India and the United States.
Ms. Spees said she hoped to persuade the court that the cases were within its jurisdiction, because they involve abuses that she said were “systematic and widespread.”
Experts in international law said the sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests was sufficiently heinous and widespread to be taken to the court.
Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, which is based in London, said he thought that the court would open a preliminary investigation to determine whether it has jurisdiction — and that it would probably conclude that it did not.
“Crimes against humanity means acts that are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population,” Mr. Ellis said. “What you’re looking at is really a policy, in which the government or the authorities are planning the attack.”
“When you look at the concept of why and how the I.C.C. was created, I just don’t think this fits,” he said. “But the filing does something that’s important. It raises awareness.”