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Top cardinal defends Mahony on abuse scandal, takes on critics

February 26, 2013 |  9:06 am

Cardinal Roger Mahony, shown in 2010, should be allowed to help select the pope Cardinal William Levada said Monday. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A top U.S. cardinal came to the defense of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, saying some priest abuse victims groups who have criticized Mahony may never be satisfied with the church's response to the crisis.

Cardinal William Levada on Monday said Mahony should help select a new pope.

"There are some victims groups for whom enough is never enough, so we have to do our jobs as best we see it," said Levada, 76, according to Associated Press. "He has apologized for errors in judgment that were made. I believe he should be at the conclave."

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Levada, who spoke about Mahony and the historic events at the Vatican during a talk at a Menlo Park seminary, is a former archbishop of San Francisco and also served as the pope's prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Critics have slammed Mahony for going to Rome for the papal conclave after church files released last month showed he sought to prevent law enforcement officials from investigating priests who molested children. Mahony has apologized for his actions in the 1980s but said it is his duty to help select a new pope.

On Saturday, a Catholic organization delivered a petition with thousands of signatures asking that Mahony recuse himself from the conclave in Rome.

FULL COVERAGE: Priest abuse scandal

The group, Catholics United, collected nearly 10,000 signatures supporting making "a simple request" that the former archbishop of Los Angeles not participate in the process because of the priest abuse scandals that happened under his watch, said Chris Pumpelly, communications director for Catholics United.

The petition was delivered Saturday to St. Charles Borromeo in North Hollywood, where the cardinal resides. It was accepted by a church staff member.

After delivering the petition, organizers attended Mass at the parish to pray for healing and for the future of the church.

Mahony was been tweeting regularly about Rome and blogging about his impressions.

"People on the streets are wondering which Pope God has chosen to replace Benedict," Mahony wrote. 
"Questions abound:  where will he be from?  How old will he be?  What new directions for the Church will he bring?  How will he deal with problems--older ones, and newer ones?"

On Monday, Mahony tweeted: "Good weather forecast for this week in Rome; no rain. Mid 50s during the day, upper 30s at night. Great Holy Spirit weather!!"

Mahony has also taken on his critics.

"Anyone interested in loving your enemies, or doing good to those who persecute you? See my blog for today. Wow, Jesus is demanding," Mahony posted on Twitter on Monday.

He expanded on the theme in a blog post.

"I can't recall a time such as now when people tend to be so judgmental and even self-righteous, so quick to accuse, judge and condemn," Mahony wrote on his personal blog. "And often with scant real facts and information.  Because of news broadcasts now 24/7 there is little or no fact checking; no in-depth analysis; no context or history given. Rather, everything gets reported as 'news' regardless of the basis for the item being reported — and passed on by countless other news outlets."

He concluded: "Jesus' message of love and forgiveness has flooded the world over the centuries, and this message has had the power to change hearts and minds. May his challenge this Lent inspire us to do as he asks."

On Saturday, Mahony answered questions under oath for more than 3½ hours about his handling of clergy sex abuse cases, according to the lawyer who questioned the former archbishop.

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Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony, shown in 2010. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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