(ANSA) - Sao Paulo, February 21 - A top cardinal said
Thursday that the next pope's primary objective will be handling
priest sex-abuse scandals and other "challenges".
In an interview with ANSA, Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo
of Brazil said Benedict XVI's successor "will not be chosen with
age or origin in mind, but for his ability to deal with the new
challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church, among which are
pedophilia and covering it up".
Agnelo, 79, is the primate emeritus of Brazil, the country
with the largest number of Catholics in the world.
He was considered 'papabile', or a papal contender, in 2005
when Benedict XVI was chosen to succeed John Paul II.
"There are great expectations surrounding the next
conclave, considering this historic moment we're living in with
its problems and challenges," he added.
"The biggest challenge for the Church, for the cardinals
and the bishops will be to bring an end to the pedophilia
coverup scandals, to keep those guilty out of the clerical state
and to foster a new generation of priests".
The Church sex-abuse scandals have been heating up as two
top American cardinals have been called by prosecutors for
questioning about sex-abuse cases in the weeks leading up to the
conclave to elect a new pope.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was
questioned Wednesday about sex-abuse allegations against priests
at the Milwaukee Archdiocese, which he led from 2002 until 2009.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los
Angeles, must answer questions under oath Saturday about a
visiting Mexican priest who in 1987 is believed to have molested
His case in particular has prompted calls on social media
and from advocacy groups for him to skip the conclave, which is
expected to commence mid-March.
"Pedophilia and homosexuality are grave sins, but no one
can stop someone from coming to the conclave," said Agnelo.
"Technically, according to canon law, it is not possible to
prevent any cardinal from voting. It is not allowed, for any
reason. All of us can vote and be voted for".
(photo: Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, second left, with Pope