Victims' advocates push for some cardinals to be barred from papal conclave

In Vatican City's St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, a man looked at  the Italian magazine Chi's photo of former Pope Benedicxt XVI — the first such image since he stepped down last week.

Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

In Vatican City's St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, a man looked at the Italian magazine <em>Chi</em>'s photo of former Pope Benedicxt XVI — the first such image since he stepped down last week.

As Roman Catholic cardinals now gathered in Rome continue to make preparations for their conclave that will choose a new pope, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast Desk that "advocates for victims of clerical sex abuse across the world are stepping up demands that three cardinals withdraw" from that process.

According to Sylvia:

"The victims groups accuse three cardinals of covering up crimes. Victims of an Italian priest have launched a petition against Cardinal Domenico Calcagno. Advocates of victims in Chile accuse Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of ignoring accusations they were abused by a popular priest. In Mexico, victims of the disgraced Father Marcial Maciel are demanding that Cardinal Norberto Rivera stay away from the conclave."

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As The Associated Press notes: Calcagno has declined comment about accusations that he covered up any abuse; Errazuriz has also "denied any cover-up;" and Rivera has "repeatedly denied wrongdoing."

Advocates for victims aren't stopping at just three names. In Rome today, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests released a list of what it says are the "dirty dozen" cardinals it believes should not be considered as candidates for pope because of alleged negligence in dealing with reports of sexual abuse or alleged roles in covering up such abuse. CNN says none of the dozen cardinals has yet responded to the group's charges.

Also today, Sylvia reports, an Italian magazine published the first post-papacy photos of now-retired Pope Benedict XVI "strolling through the gardens of the papal summer residence. He's seen wearing a white baseball cap and a white down jacket."

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