After the wild speculation on the Pope’s resignation, the forthcoming Papal Conclave has become the center of a worldwide storm.
In the United States, a part of the Catholic community wants Cardinal Roger Mahony out of the conclave. Cardinal Mahony is widely suspected of a pedophilia cover-up while he was Archbishop of Los Angeles, and was sanctioned by his successor Jose Gomez.
In the United Kingdom, the press revealed that Cardinal-elector Keith O’ Brian is under investigation by the Apostolic Nunciature in connection with some accusations of sexual harassment of priests.
The situation has become so dire that the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Vatican Press Office reacted very harshly.
The Secretariat of State issued the following statement: ‘The freedom of the Cardinals’ College, which is tasked by law with the election of the Roman Pontiff, has always been strenuously defended by the Holy See, as a warranty of a choice based on evaluations aiming only to the good of the Church. In the centuries Cardinals were forced to bear many different forms of pressure on the electors and on the College as a whole, trying to influence its decisions according to political or mundane reasons. In the past the Powers, id est the States, tried to influence the Pope’s election. Today, someone is trying to use the weight of public opinion, often using evaluations which do not fit the exquisitely spiritual moment lived by the Church. It is deplorable that, while we are approaching the time when the conclave will begin and Cardinal-electors will be bound, in front of their conscience and of God, to express their choice with the fullest freedom, news are increasingly being spread which are often unverified, or even false, and even with prejudice for people and institutions. In these moments above all Catholics are focused on what is essential: they pray for Pope Benedict and they pray so that the Holy Spirit may enlighten the Cardinals’ College, trusting the destiny of the Peter’s Boat to be in the hands of God’.
The Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, added: ‘It seems to us that the mood emerging in these day will lead to negative directions. This is a delicate moment in which much different importation is spread, and there are reports depicting the Church negatively and untruly’.