Archbishop Jose Gomez was urging Southland Catholics today to pray for Cardinal Roger Mahony, who will soon head for Rome to take part in the selection of a pope to replace Benedict XVI, who will retire at the end of the month.
Gomez also stressed that while Mahony -- who has been under fire for oversight of priests accused of molesting children -- no longer has administrative duties with the diocese, he remains a bishop in "good standing.''
In a letter sent to all priests in the archdiocese, Gomez noted that Mahony will be the senior American cardinal attending the conclave of the College of Cardinals that will choose the next pope.
"I am confident that Cardinal Mahony's accomplishments and experience in the areas of immigration, social justice, sacred liturgy and the role of the laity in the church will serve the College of Cardinals well as it works to discern the will of the Holy Spirit in these deliberations that will lead to the election of our new pope,'' Gomez wrote.
The letter went on to clarify the standing of Mahony and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who previously served as Mahony's top adviser on sex-abuse issues. Last month, Curry stepped down as regional bishop of Santa Barbara after the diocese released thousands of pages of personnel files of more than 100 clergy members. The release was part of a 2007 settlement of a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by priests.
Gomez wrote that there "continues to be confusion in some media'' about the status of Mahony and Curry in the church.
"Both have full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the church and to minister to the faithful without restriction,'' Gomez wrote. "Having been promoted to the dignity of cardinal, Cardinal Mahony has all of the prerogatives and privileges of his standing as a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
"I encourage you and your parishioners to keep our Holy Father Pope Benedict in your prayers and to pray for Cardinal Mahony as he fulfills this sacred duty as a Cardinal Elector.''
- City News Servce