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Cardinal Mahony defends handling of pedophile priests; Former Pope Benedict's legal immunity examined

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Cardinal Roger Mahony defended his handling of pedophile priests in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera Mahony was relieved of public and administrative duties just weeks ago in Los Angeles following the release of  12,000 pages of  personnel files that suggest he protected accused priests from criminal investigation.

Catholic News Service reports Tuesday that in the new interview, which was published in Italian, Mahony said he hoped to offer lessons learned in the abuse crisis to other cardinals, and that  the church confused its moral view "with what was necessary to solve the problem."

Despite the unprecedented demotion last month in L.A., little has changed for Mahony in his larger church role. He can still act as a priest, keep his rank as cardinal and remains on a key Vatican panel to elect the next pope. He is currently in Rome to attend the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

Mahony has also been actively communicating with his 2,400 Twitter followers  about the upcoming election and his time in Italy. Mahony follows only six Twitter accounts; five are news organizations and one is the private account of San Pedro priest Brian Nunes.

Meanwhile, an Italian group is urging prosecutors in Rome to question Mahony about  sexual abuse coverups and to "try to establish whether minors or Italian citizens were among the victims,"  Reuters reported Monday. 

Can retired pope be sued?

The Associated Press also announced Tuesday that attorneys who have tried unsuccessfully for years to sue the Vatican over failures to stop clergy sex abuse are looking into whether former Pope Benedict XVI is more legally vulnerable in retirement, especially if he travels outside the Vatican.

Vatican lawyers say that Benedict will retain legal immunity regardless of whether he is in or out of office. Victim advocates say modern-day courts have never dealt with an emeritus pope and that immunity should be tested.

Additionally, reports AP, an  attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights is pressing the International Criminal Court to investigate the Vatican's response to abusive priests as a crime against humanity. 

Locally, a woman who claims she was sexually abused by a priest as a child has traveled to Rome to protest Mahony’s participation in the papal conclave, calling the cardinal "complicit" and his choices "very bad… if not criminal," CBS LA reports.

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