Scandal Spectacle: The 10 Most Corrupt and Compromised Cardinals Voting For the New Pope
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4. Cardinal Angelo Sodono, Dean of the College of Cardinals. In an unprecedented speech on Easter Sunday 2010 that opened the Vatican’s religious services for the day, Sodano blamed the church’s pedophilia scandal on people with “visions of the family and of life that run contrary to the Gospel,” according to the Associated Press.
He went on to exonerate the bishops and the pope from any role in the scandal, saying:
"But it's not Christ's fault if Judas betrayed" him, Sodano said. "It's not a bishop's fault if one of his priests is stained by grave wrongdoing. And certainly the pontiff is not responsible."
If he sounds a bit defensive, Sodano had his reasons. It was he, among other prelates, who championed the works of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, who was found to have sexually abused dozens of seminarians, in addition to fathering at least three children out of wedlock. And even though Maciel’s crimes were revealed by a 1998 exposé in the Hartford Courant, Sodano put the kibosh on an investigation begun at the time by the Vatican.
Later it was learned that Maciel won the allegiance of many inside the Vatican by plying them with expensive gifts -- cars and foodstuffs worth thousands, and envelopes of cash. Sodano, it turns out, was among the beneficiaries.
5. Cardinal Justin Rigali, former Archbishop of Philadelphia. The level of abuse experienced by children in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under Rigali’s predecessor, the late Anthony Bevilacqua, is epic. As described by the National Catholic Reporter’s Tom Roberts: “Bevilacqua oversaw priests who were involved in nothing short of sexual torture of youngsters.”
As Robert Huber of Philadelphia magazine recounted: “Instead of being reported to the DA’s office, pedophile priests were moved -- sometimes repeatedly, from parish to parish to parish. Abusive priests kept right on abusing children.”
Rigali’s claim to fame is that he did nothing to stop it.
In 2005, a damning grand jury report was issued, detailing many of the crimes committed against children, such as the anal rape of a boy at Roman Catholic High School by his guidance counselor, Father Schmeer. Rigali seems to have regarded it as water under the bridge, because he was shocked, according to people present at a meeting where he received the news, that a 2011 grand jury investigation laid the continuing scandal at his own feet. According to Huber’s account of the 2011 investigaton, “[t]he Archdiocese of Philadelphia still allowed alleged pedophile priests -- 37 of them, the report said -- to continue ministering to children.”
In August, Monsignor William Lynn became the first church official convicted of a crime in the coverup of pedophilic assaults by priests; Lynn had worked for Bevilacqua. While Lynn languishes in prison, Rigali is off to Rome to join the conclave.
6. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, former Archbishop of Santiago, Chile. In 2003, José Murillo claims, he wrote to Cardinal Errázuriz to complain of sexual abuse by a prominent priest, Father Fernando Karadima, who led an organization for young people known as Catholic Action. According to a 2010 report in the New York Times, no action subsequent action was taken against Karadima.
James Hamilton, now a 47-year-old medical doctor, told the Times that he filed an official complaint against Karadima two years later for abuse that began when he was a teenager and went on for 20 years. Hamilton says he never heard back from the diocese.
In 2010, Errázuriz claimed that he had opened an investigation into the complaints against Karadima in 2005, then shut it down to await further evidence, according to an AP report. He reopened it in 2009, not long before four men came forward claiming to have been abused by Karadima -- one said he was 14 when the abuse began -- and criminal complaints were filed. A total of eight men ultimately came forward with accusations against the priest.
The AP reported that, after a criminal investigation of Karadima was initiated, Errázuriz sent a letter that was read aloud to all parishes in the archdiocese. It read, in part: