Cardinal Sean O’Malley, among cardinals who will elect Benedict XVI’s successor, appears to be following a better path as a diocesan leader, according to the Boston Area Council of Voice of the Faithful®. “We value the contributions he’s made in Rome so far,” said VOTFBAC chair Anne Southwood of Marshfield.
“As diocesan leader in Boston,” she said, “he has faced Catholics directly about clergy sexual abuse, about transparency in diocesan financing and about other issues that concern us deeply and has given us financial transparency.”
“Equally important,” she added, “Cardinal O’Malley has said in media interviews from Rome that policies for dealing with accused abusers should include procedures for dealing with bishops who protect abusive priests.”
O’Malley also is among American cardinals in Rome who have been forthcoming about their General Congregation meetings before the conclave. “With daily press conferences,” Southwood said, “they appeared to heed our calls for transparency and were intent on communicating with us. Although the press conferences were stopped, ostensibly to avoid another ‘Vatileaks’ scandal, we should applaud their efforts. We hope the other cardinals recognize the value of this kind of connection with Catholics at a crucial time.”
As a follow-up to Southwood’s remarks, VOTF trustee Ed Wilson offered some perspectives on hopes for the next pope. “The next pope,” he said, “must be attuned to what is valid in societal changes of the past 50 years and must listen to the voices of honest people like those who responded to the recent Pew Forum opinion sampling and The New York Time-CBS poll of U.S. Catholics. We would not expect the Vatican to accept all of the conclusions from such polls, but, as the people of God, we do expect our leaders to listen and try to understand what is valid and what can be improved. They cannot simply dismiss every new idea as ‘relativism’ or ‘secularism.’ God lives in the 21st century, too, not just the 16th century. As Americans, we ask our church leaders to observe and respect the opinions of all the faithful.”