Cardinal Mahony scandal heats up before conclave
Church applauds Benedict's record on handling priest sex abuse18 February, 18:56
Mahony, the senior American cardinal attending the conclave, will be questioned under oath February 23 about how he handled Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, a visiting Mexican priest who allegedly molested 26 children in the Los Angeles archdiocese in 1987.
The deposition Saturday will be the first since a court order forced the archdiocese to release thousands of pages of confidential files on over 120 priests accused of sex abuse, showing how Mahony and other top officials shielded priests in order to contain the scandal.
Meanwhile Father Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's top sex abuse investigator until February 3, applauded Benedict for leaving a legacy of "extraordinary reply and response to the very sad phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy". Scicluna, promoter of justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Holy See, was replaced by Father Robert Oliver.
"Benedict was very active during the pontificate of John Paul II, with the congregation of the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Santitatis Tutela, a universal law of the Church which gave very precise and detailed procedure on how to respond to sexual abuse of minors.
"His words will remain with us as a clear sign of the determination of the Church to respond adequately to abuse and also to safeguard the innocence of our children and young people," Scicluna said. Benedict's critics say that he did not do enough against the scandals and to promote transparency to combat sexual abuse by clergy, citing cases such as that of Mahony, and others like Sean Brady, primate of Ireland, who has faced repeated calls to resign over his role in covering up priest sex abuse.