Cardinals Dolan and Mahony quizzed on child abuse
- 21 February 2013
- From the section US & Canada
Two US cardinals due to go to Rome to help elect a new pope are being questioned about cases of child abuse by priests under their supervision.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan testified about his release of names of accused clergy members in his former archdiocese.
Cardinal Roger Mahony will be questioned on Saturday about a Mexican priest accused of abusing 26 children.
Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly said last week he would retire, becoming the first pontiff to do so since 1415.
Cardinal Dolan, 62, also the Archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been seen as a long-shot candidate for the papacy.
His deposition came during a bankruptcy trial filed in 2011 by Cardinal Dolan's successor to the archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over abuse claims from nearly 500 people.
The scandal has seen the removal of several church officials, including another former archbishop.
A spokesman for Cardinal Dolan said he was eager to co-operate with lawyers on the trial.
"He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to co-operate in whatever way he could," said spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
The plaintiffs have said the evidence given by Cardinal Dolan would help them to establish when church officials first became aware of the abuse allegations and victims.
Current Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki has said the church is seeking bankruptcy protection so it can continue to operate, while still compensating victims.
It is the eighth US diocese to take such action.
A spokesman said Cardinal Dolan's decision to make public the names of suspected abusers was part of a wider effort to begin the healing process.
But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is asking for the cardinal's testimony to be made public.
Cardinal Dolan "did a lot of creative manoeuvring of priest sex offenders and creative accounting of church money," said Peter Isley, a director of the group.
Calls to withdraw
Meanwhile, Cardinal Mahony is due to provide evidence in a separate case over visiting Mexican priest Reverend Nicolas Aguilar Rivera.
Police believe he abused 26 children in 1987 and fled to Mexico a year later when parents complained.
He has been removed from the priesthood and is still a fugitive.
In recent weeks, the archdiocese of Los Angeles has released thousands of documents concerning more than 120 accused clergymen.
The papers showed Cardinal Mahony and other church officials protected some of those accused and made no effort to warn churchgoers about the risk to their children.
There are mounting calls for Cardinal Mahony to withdraw from the conclave. But in blog and Twitter posts the cardinal has indicated he intends to go to Rome.