Monday, March 11, 2013

SNAP to Cardinal Angelo Sodano: Step Down Tomorrow as Papal Conclave Begins

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has just issued a press release calling on Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, not to offer a special liturgy tomorrow to mark the opening of the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. As SNAP maintains, Sodano, who was formerly the Vatican's Secretary of State, "is a dramatic symbol of almost everything that is wrong with the Catholic hierarchy, especially when it comes to addressing and stopping the sexual assault of children by clergy and the cover up these crimes."

SNAP enumerates salient points in Sodano's history as a powerful Vatican official:

  • He blocked the investigation of the notorious Austrian pedophile Cardinal Hermann Groer. 
  • He "fiercely and publically defended another of the church’s most high profile sex offenders, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado" right up to 2005, long after Maciel's years of abusing Legionaries of Christ seminarians, his drug abuse, and his fathering of children by several women were widely known.
  • And, above all, he ignored pleas directed to him by those abused by Father Lawrence Murphy at a deaf school in Wisconsin, and, after the Murphy story received worldwide media attention, he "used the Easter Sunday mass in St. Peter’s Square to call the abuse crisis, the Murphy case and the awful plight of his victims 'petty gossip.'"

As SNAP concludes, 

For his fellow Cardinals to allow Sodano to occupy the highest and most visible position of honor during their selection of a new leader signals that they have little if any intention to usher in a new and desperately needed era of institutional responsibility, accountability and transparency.

As I myself concluded when I looked at Sodano's legacy on this blog back in April 2011, he is, in a word, corrupt. And that's a conclusion I'm not in the least inclined to change after reading Jason Berry's outstanding statement last week at the Global Post website on the papal conclave. Berry characterizes Sodano as "a walking symbol of scandal" and reminds readers of his essay of Sodano's shady wheeling and dealing on behalf of his nephew Andrea Sodano, who was convicted in 2008 in New York of fraud and money-laundering and was sent to prison.*

Along with his uncle Angelo, Andrea Sodano was a close associate of Maciel, who greased the palms of Vatican officials for years to obtain leniency as his activities were being scrutinized by the Vatican. And so I wholeheartedly agree: it will be scandalous for Sodano to lead the liturgy tomorrow opening the conclave.

Though I don't in the least expect Sodano to step down in response to SNAP's plea, any more than I expect the cardinals electing a new pope to listen carefully to anything survivors--or lay Catholics in general--have to say . . . .

(Later in the day: I didn't realize when I blogged about the SNAP statement that Colleen Baker had already done so earlier at her great Enlightened Catholicism site. Don't miss Colleen's posting!)

*Please note Kathy Hughes's valuable correction in the thread following this posting. I misread Berry on this point: it was Sodano's business partner Follieri who did time in prison. I apologize for the error, and appreciate Kathy's correction.

The graphic: Pope John Paul II with his Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 2005.

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