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Group Doesn't Want Cardinal Mahony To Help Pick Next Pope

LOS ANGELES ( — Some local Catholics don't feel Cardinal Roger Mahony should be able to participate in the upcoming papal conclave in Rome.

The organization, Catholics United, tells CBSLA and KNX 1070 Newsradio that they want the cardinal to recuse himself from the closed-door conference slated for next month in Rome in light of his alleged cover-up of a church sex abuse scandal.

Catholics United starts online petition urging Cardinal Mahony to stay home from Rome

"We just think it's just wrong for him to go. He actually has written a letter saying sorry. And if he's really sorry, he shouldn't act like that," said Andrea Leon-Grossmann, a local member.

Mahony will be among 120 men and women called to participate in the College of Cardinals to help pick the next pope following Pope Benedict XVI's announcement this week that he will be stepping down as Pontiff on Feb. 28.

"Given what has happened in the last few years, especially in the last couple of weeks, it is just unbelievable that he is gonna go there. I think it's just wrong," said Leon-Grossmann.

On Jan. 31, the 76-year-old Mahony was relieved of his public and administrative duties after the release of 12,000 pages outlining hundreds of cases of suspected sexual abuse and personnel files.

The documents reportedly reveal Mahony's role and other archdiocese officials in allegedly protecting clergy from prosecution in the 1980s and later.

But not all Catholics agree that the cardinal should sit out on the conclave.

"He's still a part of the growing Catholic church. So I do believe he should be involved," one parishioner said.

In a letter released Friday, Archbishop Jose Gomez asked all priests to pray for Cardinal Mahony as he fulfills this sacred duty.

He wrote, "Cardinal Mahony's accomplishments and experience in the areas of immigration, social justice, sacred liturgy, and the role of the laity in the Church will serve the College of Cardinals well as it works to discern the will of the Holy Spirit in these deliberations that will lead to the election of our new Pope."

Catholics United has 50,000 members nationwide and some 1,600 in the Southland. The group vows to protest should Cardinal Mahony attend the conclave. So far, they tell KNX 1070's Margaret Carrero that they have gathered 3,000 signed petitions as part of an online movement.

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