[D]espite calls from many Catholics, [Pope Benedict] never removed prelates who, court cases and documents revealed, put children at risk by failing to report pedophiles or remove them from the priesthood.
It is not that these cardinals behaved so differently from the others, or that they do not have achievements to their names. It is just that they happened to come from pinpoints on the Catholic world map where long-hidden secrets became public because victims organized, government officials investigated, lawyers sued or the news media paid attention.
They include cardinals from Belgium, Chile and Italy. They include the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, who is accused of taking large monetary gifts from a religious order, the Legion of Christ, and halting an investigation into its founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel — who was later exposed as a pathological abuser and liar.
They also include cardinals reviled by many in their own countries, like Cardinal Sean Brady, the primate of All Ireland, who survived an uproar after government investigations uncovered endemic cover-ups of the sexual and physical abuse of minors.
“There’s so many of them,” said Justice Anne Burke, a judge in Illinois who served on the American bishops’ first advisory board 10 years ago. “They all have participated in one way or another in having actual information about criminal conduct, and not doing anything about it.”
The conclave is stacked with staunch conservatives of considerably advanced years. That means the possibility that the next pope will stand for contrition and conciliation is about as big as the chance that he’ll celebrate his new title by performing The Vatican Rag in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.
Not that he’d pull it off quite as well as Tom Lehrer did.
[color image via Pilgrim’s Footsteps]