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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 16
New pope pledges 'reform' at Vatican - But his choice of advisors does not augur well for change
Section One
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New pope pledges 'reform' at Vatican - But his choice of advisors does not augur well for change

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In what has been described as 'the first clear indication that he plans major changes in the administration of Vatican affairs,' Pope Francis has appointed a commission of eight cardinals to advise him on a reform of the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that helps him administer the church.

While the pope may intend to make some changes to the notoriously obstinate Curia, the cardinals whose names he announced on April 13 do not inspire confidence that there will be significant reform.

A ROGUES' GALLERY
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who will 'coordinate' the commission, for example, has been accused of complicity in the 2009 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. In the aftermath of the coup, Gay activist and Zelaya supporter Walter Trochez was murdered. His killers remain at large.

Rodriguez has stated that politicians who publicly support abortion automatically excommunicate themselves, because they have 'done serious harm to the communion of faith of the Church.'

In a May 2002 interview with the Italian-Catholic publication 30Giorni, Rodriguez claimed that Jews influenced the media to run stories about sexual abuse by Catholic priests, to divert attention from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The one American cardinal on the commission, Patrick O'Malley of Boston, reportedly impressed Italians with his 'sweet' disposition during the conclave that elected Francis, but as an administrator, O'Malley has been anything but sweet.

Although O'Malley claims to have a 'zero tolerance policy' for abuse of children, SNAP (the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) charges that he settled 101 abuse claims with cash payouts, to prevent victims of priests in his diocese from going public with their charges.

O'Malley has also intervened in domestic politics, charging that the Democratic Party has been hostile to the church and other 'pro-life' groups, and opining that the support of Catholic voters for Democratic candidates 'borders on scandal.'

WAIT, THERE'S MORE
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa has been implicated in covering up child abuse by priests under his authority, in particular Fr. Fernando Karadima, who was convicted in 2011 of 'sexually abusing minors.' During his time as cardinal, Errazuriz refused to meet with victims of abuse by clergymen.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx is reportedly a hardliner on questions of church discipline, and once suspended a priest in his diocese for inviting Protestants to a church service.

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya brokered the departure of African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1997, working with anti-Gay Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, who sent troops to help oust Mobutu.

Cardinal George Pell, while openly critical of Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia, has also been outspoken in opposition to the use of condoms, even if they are used only to prevent STDs and not for contraception. AIDS is a 'great spiritual and health crisis,' Pell said, but 'Condoms are encouraging promiscuity. They are encouraging irresponsibility.'

Pell has the distinction of being cleared by independent investigators of charges that he personally abused a teenaged boy at a Catholic youth camp.

While Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the head of the Curia, was not named to the 'reform' commission, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, who administers Vatican City under Bertone, is a member.

The remaining cardinal, Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, has been identified as a theological 'moderate,' as that term is defined within Catholic circles.

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