SNAP’s “Dirty Dozen” list – the “papabile” who would be the worst choice for children

The following twelve papal candidates are the ones that we are most worried about becoming the next pope. These twelve were chosen based exclusively on their actions and/or public comments about child sex abuse and cover up in the church. Sources include mainstream media accounts, legal filings and victims’ experiences. The names are in no particular order.

1) Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Mexico

--He blamed the media for “attacks on the church,” alleging “over-reporting” of church sex cases.

--He claimed that there are no “documented” cases of abuse against minors in Mexico.

--He also repeatedly minimized and concealed multiple child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera who traveled between his native Mexico and the Los Angeles archdiocese, molesting kids in both places. Aguilar Rivera’s current whereabouts are unknown.

2) Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Honduras

--He said much of the U.S. media was anti-Catholic and that the major networks and newspapers "made themselves protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution of the church." 

--He also opposes bishops turning allegations of clerical sexual abuse over to civil authorities for investigation and possible prosecution. "I would be willing to go to jail before harming one of my priests -- I am not a policeman," he said. 

3) Cardinal Timothy Dolan, New York

--In August of 2011, Dolan took minimal steps against Fr. Jamie Duenas, who repeatedly abused a teenage girl who worked for him and was arrested. Instead of helping the police or the victim, Dolan attacked the victim on his official website for going back to work after the first assault.

--That same year, Dolan kept silent for nine months about the case of Brother Lawrence Gordon, an assistant principal who had child porn on his computer. Such delays and secrecy give predators ample time to potentially destroy evidence, intimidate victims, discredit witnesses, threaten whistleblowers, and fabricate alibis.

--Internal church documents released by a judge last summer show that Dolan devised a secret plan to pay pedophile priests $20,000 each to quietly leave the ministry. Some of the clerics went elsewhere, but Dolan warned no one. At least 12 priests are known to have gotten payouts.

--In 2007, Dolan publicly and vehemently denied paying off offender priests after it was discovered that one notorious priest child sex offender, Fr Franklyn Becker, was given money.

4) Cardinal Angelo Scola, Italy

--In 2010, when Pope Benedict’s role in the sex abuse and cover up crisis was questioned in news accounts, Scola publicly called the coverage an “iniquitous humiliation.”

--In a 2010 homily delivered at St. Peter’s Basilica, Scola refered to the clergy sex abuse crisis,   offered no apology to victims and shifted blame and minimized church wrongdoing by stressing that pedophilia “concerns different environments and different categories of persons” outside the church. 

5) Cardinal George Pell, Australia*

--He claims that church has been a victim of “smears” in the media about child abuse, there are no cover ups, and that it is untrue that the church officials are “inefficient” in handling child abuse cases.

--He worked to secure a court file in which it allegedly states that Pell was present when a boy spoke up about being raped by a priest. Pell called the victim’s statements "irresponsible and untrue."

--Pell does not believe that the royal commission investigating clergy sex crimes and cover ups needs to take place.

6) Cardinal Dominik Duka, Czech Republic

--He claimed that reporting about the abuse of kids in Irish schools was an attempt to “push the church from its position in the upbringing and education” of children. (It’s not clear why he feels he has expertise in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases that took place in Ireland.)

--He also claimed that only 10% of accusations against priests are proven.

7) Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, Italy

--He does not believe that a bishop should be required to report a priest who has been accused of sex abuse, saying “if a priest cannot confide in his bishop for fear of being denounced it would mean there is no more liberty of conscience.”

--He blames the child sex abuse epidemic on the “homosexual infiltration” of the clergy.

8) Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington D.C.

--In 2010, he refused to take action about Fr. Walter Salisbury – a priest who had been convicted twice of abusing children – who was quietly sent to Maine and continued working there, without any warning whatsoever to parishioners and the public.

-- In 2004, he refused to help warn West Virginia families about an abusive Pittsburgh priest (Fr. Jack Hoehl) who was practicing in that state as a counselor.

--He refused, in two dioceses, to take the simple public safety step of posting the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused priests on his diocesan websites. (Some 30 US bishops have done this.)

9) Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Quebec, Canada*

--He gave a homily dedicated to clerical sex abuse, talking about the need to open pathways for victims to come forward, but reportedly refused to meet with victims.

--He claims that church’s abuse response should be a model for others.

·--He was involved in the recent Cardinal O’Brien resignation, allegedly brokering the deal, which perpetuated the unhealthy practice of essentially letting wrongdoers determine their own punishment (instead of church supervisors clearly and publicly sanctioning those who commit or conceal misdeeds).

10) Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Boston

--In 2008, a national church panel found that, for the second year in a row, O’Malley was violating the US bishops’ child sex abuse prevention policy. According to other church officials, O’Malley was refusing to train all kids in his archdiocese how to avoid or stop being victimized. O’Malley also failed to discipline a single individual on his staff for this violation.

--In 2006, in a case with disturbing parallels to many earlier Boston pedophile priest cases, O’Malley moved very slowly in the case of a prominent Catholic hospital official who faces multiple allegations of sexually harassing employees.

--Under O’Malley’s watch, the archdiocesan abuse policy was revised, eliminating a provision that required the immediate removal of accused priests, and severely limited survivors’ access to archdiocesan files about their cases. Also, under O’Malley’s leadership, the archdiocese “cleared” a very high percentage of accused priests (45%, whereas most diocese have a 10% clearance rate), and has also failed to rule on at least 15 cases.

--O’Malley was one of the last US bishops to post the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on his website, and when he did, he disingenuously left off roughly one third of the priests – those who worked for religious orders.

(For more info on O’Malley, feel free to contact Anne Barrett Doyle 781 439 5208, [email protected]) and Terry Mckiernan (508 479 9304, [email protected]) of

11) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Argentina

--Sandri is closely tied to the controversial Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was a staunch and disingenuous supporter of Fr. Marcial Maciel.

--In 2004, at a basilica in Rome, Sandri also read a letter publicly supporting Maciel and spoke of his allegedly good works.

--Sandri remains a consummate Vatican insider. He's spent roughly 40 years there.

12) Cardinal Peter Turkson, Ghana*

--He recently claimed that there were few child molesting clerics in Africa because they didn’t tolerate gay people there. 

(Note: Asterisk denotes member of the Roman Curia)

Showing 15 comments

  • John Hurson
    commented 2013-03-13 11:59:23 -0500
    Why isn’t Cardinal Sean Brady on this list? He has been found guilty of covering up child abuse by one of the worlds worst cases of abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth. Is there any Cardinals there who has a decent backbone?
  • Thomas Caddick
    commented 2013-03-13 04:57:53 -0500
    Both points on Angelo Scola relate to just ONE homily he gave at St MARK’s Basilica, not St Peter’s (in Rome). Please correct your current justification.
    For those who haven’t read the transcript, it was a very profound reflection on the sexual abuse crisis, in which he expressed his “dismay, sense of betrayal and remorse for violated childhood and even greater our closeness to the victims and their families. Hence also, without hesitation and minimizing, the renewed commitment to render an account of every one of these crimes, determined not to hide anything.”
  • Lynne Biziewski
    commented 2013-03-12 19:29:36 -0500
    Why wasn’t Mahoney on this list?
  • David Clohessy
    followed this page 2013-03-12 19:27:53 -0500
  • Lynne Biziewski
    commented 2013-03-12 19:26:45 -0500
    Terry Woosley – Wuerl is brilliant as a PR man, giving himself the image of someone who has done so much to protect children from pedophile priests. However, the facts don’t show this to be true.

    As is so typical of bishops and cardinals today, (and others who also commit crimes), he has given the impression that he has a zero tolerance for child rape, but his record shows a different story.

    The quote below is from this Crime Magazine article:

    “He’s apparently a very smart and personable man who gets good legal and public relations advice and follows it. (He’s the only bishop in the U.S. that I know of who, during the height of the abuse crisis, bought 30 minutes of prime TV time to run what amounted to an infomercial burnishing his record on handling abuse cases.) In each diocese, he’s benefited from archaic, predator-friendly laws that prevent all but a few victims from taking legal action to expose men who commit and conceal child sex crimes.”

    Whatever the actual perception, Clohessey was clear that Wuerl should not be perceived as fighting for the victims.

    “I think Wuerl, like many of his clerical colleagues, worked hard to keep clergy sex crimes concealed, and is likely doing so even now. It’s clear that he had his sights set on climbing in the hierarchy and he succeeded, in part I suspect, because he’s adept at posturing as a reformer. But with Wuerl, it’s more style than substance, at least with child sex crimes.”
  • Sepp Rothwangl
    commented 2013-03-09 06:58:48 -0600
    As a spokesman for the Austrian platform “Victims of Violence in the Church”, I would like to inform you, on the eve of the Conclave, about certain facts regarding the activity of the Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna. The motivations for my letter are reports in which the engagement of Cardinal Schönborn in the sexual abuse crisis is portrayed in a positive way. This is outrageous, totally false and not consistent with the facts. At first glance, the rather low financial compensation so far, may seem positive, from the perspective of the Church. However, the situation is really catastrophic, in particular for the Catholic Church, but also for the clergy abuse victims.

    Cardinal Schönborn is not suited at all to handle crisis situations, not for handling cases of abuse, nor for other problems. As a result, the management of the abuse cases in Austria has totally failed. A meeting of the Klasnic Commission, instituted by him, and which he, erroneously defined as “independent”, was recently excluded publically from Parliament by the president of the Austrian Chamber, for lack of impartiality. And the only foreign speaker has declined participation to the meeting for the same reason (1).

    Cardinal Schönborn has never, in any way, been able to mitigate the situation of abuse, but with his disloyal and incapable behavior, he did contribute to keep the subject of sexual abuse in institutions of the Church, constant in the media, very strongly, for three years, so that even the reputation of the Church has suffered enormous damage. Despite the Commission instituted by him, there have been the first civil actions. One of these, against the monastery of Mehrerau, the objection of the prescription was rejected in court, in a judgment that has made law. We can expect a great number of legal actions with elevated amounts for damages (2).

    The unreasonable attitude of the Church under Cardinal Schönborn, and the miserably low indemnities paid to the victims, has unleashed a great indignation in the population and it has contributed to making the Church in Austria heavily lose prestige and social authority in Austria, in the last few years, in prestige: the number of people who left the Church has stabilized on historical heights, and at the same time, the demand for services of the Church is in free fall. Since 2003 there are 22,1% less people to attend mass, 10,5 % less baptisms, 20,3% less First Communions and 10,5 % less funerals ( In parallel even the ordinations of priests are at a historical depth, which reflects the fact that the population, especially the young people, do not accept the Church any longer.

    Based on Cardinal Schönborn’s active and well-documented participation in the cover-up of abuse cases, it would be a disgrace if he were to participate in the Conclave. He should be excluded from it, just like the American Cardinal Mahoney. (3). Cardinal Schönborn, as in the case of his predecessor Cardinal Groër, has been accused of cover-up and lies, when he publicly called the allegations of the victim of Gröer defamatory (4), although he was obviously aware of the accusations against Gröer, as the interview with Hubertus Czernin shows (5), as does other documents we have.

    The Cardinal has been personally seriously involved in another accusation of cover-up, in the case of the director of the Missio Austria Maasburg (6), going as far as hiding behind the Secret Sacrament of the confession to explain why he could not help the woman who claims to be a victim. Schönborn also has this attitude when it comes to criminal matters (“Failure to prevent a punishable act”). This case has not been closed yet and would weigh heavily on Schönborn should he become Pope (7).

    Also regarding the “Pfarrer-Initiative” (Priest Initiative), Schönborn has not been able to stop the activities of Schüller. Thus Schüller is highly esteemed in large parts of the population and within the government, as well a in the media, where he gets more and better coverage than Cardinal Schönborn.

    Cardinal Schönborn damages the reputation of the Church itself. The former Director of Communications of the archdiocese of Vienna, and actual director of the renown Austrian magazine “Der Standard”, Wolfgang Bergmann, writes about this constantly in his blog, and referring to him as “Cardinal Schön-porn”.

    In light of all of these reasons, I appeal to all cardinals, with the urgent request to avoid the elevation of Cardinal Schönborn to Pope. He would not render good service to the Church nor would he handle the abuse cases well.

    Sepp Rothwangl

    Spokesman for the Austrian platform “Victims of Violence in the Church”







  • Jim Bergoff
    commented 2013-03-09 04:12:51 -0600
    I am totally disgusted! Supposedly men of God covering up their counterparts sins! No wonder the church of Rome (stands on the 7 hills of Rome) is called The Whore of Babylon in the Bible!
  • Marrr marr
    commented 2013-03-07 06:11:16 -0600
    This is stupid news at all. Absolutely not truly information. Duka is realistic and he tell only true about situation in Ireland and that not only church has problem bull all of us have this problems. Politic people, army, police, and there is much more than in catholic people even they don’t have celibate.
    This information SNAP is absolutely weak and whit out shoving true. They pick up only what they wanted and no objectivity.
  • Sepp Rothwangl
    commented 2013-03-07 02:21:16 -0600
    what about Austrian Schönborn?
  • Christian Patrick Paquette
    commented 2013-03-06 18:41:00 -0600
    I was raised a Catholic and have been a witness to the sex abuse of children and the enormous damage those actions have had on the institution of the Catholic church. I find my God outside the doors of the Catholic church today . . . nevertheless stunned by what has transpired.
  • Rudy Stefancik
    commented 2013-03-06 11:51:13 -0600
    Hubris, O’Malley failed to provide the child training, not the adult training.
  • Cynthia Lewis-Barte
    commented 2013-03-06 09:34:02 -0600
    These are only reports on 12 Cardinals! I haven’t heard of great works on behalf of sexual abuse victims and survivors from any of the 103 other Cardinals who will be voting for a new Pope. How sad…they’ll have to canvas the group to see who is the least egregious!

    It also sickens me to think that the likes of Cardinal Law, (formerly from Boston and scooped up to the Vatican when things got hot there) will be advising or having any input on the under 80 crowd.

    Nothing but full disclosure by the church is acceptable and if that order doesn’t come from the Pope on down to every diocese, the stench will continue to come from the Pope on down.
  • Terrill Woosley
    commented 2013-03-06 07:31:45 -0600
    Wuerl? He took on the Vatican about this subject when others were hiding under their beds. He is the real deal and cares deeply about this subject.
  • John Smith
    commented 2013-03-06 07:22:29 -0600
    What’s sad is that the “good-ol’-boy’s” club that will be electing the next pope could not care any less about this. Not when they have only to answer to each other and feel that they are above the law.
  • Reverend Christine Barton
    commented 2013-03-06 06:52:52 -0600
    These men deserve only to be on a list of the infamous. The Curia is a scandal!

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