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Outcry Grows Over Mahony's Planned Participation In Papal Conclave

LOS ANGELES ( —There is worldwide outrage that former Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony will be part of next month's papal conclave in Rome.

A poll by an influential Italian Catholic magazine found that an overwhelming majority of its readers don't want Mahony to be part of the papal conclave to select the next pope after Pope Benedict XVI finalizes his retirement.

"It's a total slap in the face to victims of sexual abuse -- and to Catholics," Joelle Casteix, a victim of sex abuse at the hands of a priest, said. Casteix is also the western regional director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Mahony, who was appointed Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985 and was made a cardinal in 1991, has been a polarizing figure in the church sex abuse scandal. Just last month, newly released documents showed how Mahony and other top Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, orchestrate damage control and keep parishioners from finding out about abuse cases.

"We have found out, we have proof positive, that Cardinal Mahony covered up for sex offending priests," Casteix said. "He covered up crimes, and he allowed abuse to continue. Why should he be given the honor of voting for the pope? It's tragic."

"Cardinal Mahony is attending the conclave, which is the sacred duty of every cardinal under the church's Canon Law," a statement from LA Archdiocese spokesman Tod M. Tamberg said. Mahony was also part of the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Former Roman Catholic priest and canon lawyer Patrick Wall says he believes Mahony will ultimately not be allowed to vote in the conclave.

"This is supposed to be a sacred process, but you can't have someone with this much of a colluded reputation and now people know that, for 25 years, he chose to protect priests over immigrants, he chose to protect priests over children, he chose to protect priests over children who were being sodomized and raped," Wall said.

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