Story Summary

Who will be the next pope?


After Pope Benedict’s historic resignation, the church is seeking its next leader.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 10 updates

Rome (CNN) — A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a “Dirty Dozen” list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims or their public comments about the cases.

The listnames three U.S. Roman Catholic cardinals and nine from other countries.

Watch for the smoke: How is a new pope elected?

SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on media reports, legal filings and victims’ statements.

A representative for one of the cardinals on list dismissed the group. The remaining cardinals or their representatives couldn’t be immediately reached by CNN for comment Wednesday.

“I’m not going to respond to this group which has little to no credibility,” said Joseph Zwelling, a spokesman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.


ROME (CNN) — A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a “Dirty Dozen” list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims or their public comments about the cases.

The list names three U.S. Roman Catholic cardinals and nine from other countries.

SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on media reports, legal filings and victims’ statements.

A representative for one of the cardinals on list dismissed the group. The remaining cardinals or their representatives couldn’t be immediately reached by CNN for comment Wednesday.

“I’m not going to respond to this group which has little to no credibility,” said Joseph Zwelling, a spokesman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

When asked about the SNAP list, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, told CNN: “We believe it is not up to SNAP to decide who comes to conclave and who is chosen. … cardinals can decide themselves without asking SNAP for advice.”


As of midday, 113 of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are in Rome, according to Lombardi. To be eligible to be a part of the group, a cardinal must be under the age of 80.

Lombardi and another Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, read the SNAP press release together, Rosica said. Lombardi declined to comment further.

The two other U.S. cardinals on the list are Sean O’Malley of Boston and Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., the group said.

A spokeswoman for Wuerl declined to comment.

The others listed are Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, George Pell of Australia, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Dominik Duka or the Czech Republic, Peter Turkson of Ghana, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, Tarcisio Bertone and Angelo Scola of Italy, and Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico, the group said.

Not all of them are linked to alleged coverups of sexual abuse, SNAP said. Some were placed on the list because of their public remarks related to the abuse scandal, SNAP said.

On Monday, SNAP also called for some of the older cardinals to remove themselves from the meetings held before the election of the new pope, arguing that some have been accused of complicity in protecting priests accused of sexually abusing children.

Cardinals from around the globe have been summoned to Rome to take part in the process of choosing the next pontiff, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week.

As of midday, 113 of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are in Rome, according to Lombardi. To be eligible to be a part of the group, a cardinal must be under the age of 80.

The two cardinal-electors who are not yet there are Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, who was due to arrive later Wednesday, and Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Vietnam, who is arriving Thursday.

No date has yet been proposed for the secret election, or conclave, to select the former pontiff’s successor.

Meanwhile, a new study says American Catholics view sex abuse by clergy as the most important problem facing the church today, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

When asked to put in their own words what’s the most pressing issue facing their church, 34% of the U.S. Catholics questioned cite pedophilia, sex abuse or another phrase for the same problem, Pew said. No other problem received a more than 10% response; the next biggest issue named is low trust and low credibility, at 9%, Pew said.

‘Silence didn’t work’

SNAP is intentionally focusing on candidates with a realistic chance of being named pope, its executive director David Clohessy said Wednesday as the group released its list.

“The single quickest and most effective step would be for the next pope to clearly discipline, demote, denounce and even defrock cardinals and bishops who are concealing child sex crimes. We think that’s the missing piece,” he said.

The new pope should order each bishop around the world to hand over “every piece of paper he has on proven, admitted or credibly accused child-molesting clerics to law enforcement,” Clohessy said.

Barbara Dorris, victims’ outreach director for SNAP, said: “The short answer is we’ve tried silence, silence didn’t work, so we have to speak out. We have to do everything we can to get this information out there.”

The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals in recent years — and the new pope will be under pressure to deal more effectively with a crisis that has shaken public confidence in the church.

SNAP says it’s vital to look at how the world’s bishops have handled claims of abuse by priests because the crisis is far from over.

“This scandal, we believe, has yet to surface in most nations. It’s shameless spin and deliberate deception to claim otherwise. It’s tempting to reassure the public and the parishioners by making this claim. But it’s also irresponsible,” a statement on SNAP’s website said.

“Clergy sex crimes and coverups remain deeply hidden in the vast majority of nations (where most Catholics live), and has really only become widely known — and barely addressed — in the U.S. about a decade ago and in a few European countries even more recently.”

Media leaks concern

A news conference scheduled by American cardinals for Wednesday, following media briefings on Monday and Tuesday, was canceled at short notice.

Asked if the Vatican had told the American cardinals to stop their daily media briefings, Vatican spokesman Rosica suggested that the details of what was discussed in the general congregations were not meant to be publicized.

“It’s not up to Father Lombardi or myself to tell them what to do,” he said. “It could be that among themselves they realized that there are different ways and different methods of getting things out.”

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said via e-mail that the U.S. cardinals were committed to transparency and had wanted to share “a process-related overview of their work” with the public “in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality” of the general congregations.

“Due to concerns over accounts being reported in the Italian press, which breached confidentiality, the College of Cardinals has agreed not to give interviews,” she said.

In total, 153 cardinals gathered Wednesday at the Vatican for a third day of meetings, known as general congregations, before they set the timetable for the election.

The cardinals spoke about new evangelization, restructuring of the church hierarchy, or curia, and the need for good governance of the church, Lombardi said.

A five-minute limit has been imposed on cardinals speaking at the meetings, although the microphone is not being switched off if they run over the time allowed.

The cardinals have decided to meet twice Thursday, in the morning and afternoon, in order to “intensify the rhythm of work,” Lombardi said.

Video shown at a Vatican news conference showed workers preparing the Sistine Chapel for the secretive conclave.

An elevated floor is being put in place to protect the elaborate mosaic tiling, said Lombardi, where seats will be placed for the cardinals.

The Sistine Chapel and its ornate ceiling by Michelangelo are normally a must-see for tourists in Rome, but it was closed to the public beginning Tuesday afternoon to allow for preparations to take place.

A fake bishop tried to crash a secret meeting at the Vatican on Monday.

The intruder claimed he belonged to the imaginary Italian Orthodox Church.

His ruse was discovered by the other cardinals because his cassock was too short, his crucifix was unusual and his sash turned out to be a purple scarf.

As Pope Benedict XVI waved his final goodbye from the terrace of Castel Gandalfo in Rome, the attention quickly shifted to the College of Cardinals who will choose the next Pontiff.

There are some frontrunners and contenders that are already being talked about.   Marc Oullet of Canada, the Italian power players with a home field advantage, and New York’s own Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who has shunned every idea regarding him being the next Pope.

“I have a better chance of taking A-Rod’s spot on third base,”  jokes Dolan.

However, Dolan is not the only Cardinal with a New York connection.   Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana is leading the pack right now with betters playing his odds.   Turkson calls New York a second home of sorts and has formed some lasting friendships.

“He is my idol,” says his friend Dr. Joe Marotta, an Orthopedic surgeon who works in Troy, New York.

Marotta also runs a non-profit group, Medicus Christi, which performs surgeries for people in Ghana and around the world.  It is Marotta’s work in Ghana that led him to meet Cardinal Turkson.  The two formed a friendship and Turkson was so impressed with Medicus Christi he introduced Marotta to Pope Benedict XVI.

“I got so nervous and tongue tied,”  said Marotta, recalling the account.

Turkson’s ties to New York began when he studied at St. Anthony’s seminary in Rensellear, New York during the early 1970s.     While he was a young Seminarian, Turkson realized he needed a car to get around New York.   So, he got a job to pay for the car but found himself in some trouble.   We’ll let Marotta explain this one.

“One job he had was cleaning a bank and he was there after hours,’ recalls Marotta.  Somebody saw him after the bank was closed and thought he was trying to rob the bank.   So, the person called the police and he had to explain that he was there cleaning the bank and then called his supervisor to help get him out of trouble.”

That run in with the law didn’t stop Turkson from coming back to New York, even as he climbed the ranks through the church.  To this day, he comes back about once a year and says mass at a local parish.

The question now – is Turkson the right man for the job?

Marotta says absolutely.

“He has the background and the training and personality to bring a breath of freash air into the church.   The church desperately needs that kind of enthusiasm to make it relevant in todays society.”

Turkson is also big on technology.  He loves twitter, his iphone and ipad.  He even loves to drive himself around Rome.   But, in New York, he relies on his buddy Marotta.

“I was driving once and he was lounging in the passenger seat jet legged,” says Marotta.   Turkson fell asleep and as we were driving I realized, this man might be the next Pope.   I got nervous and slowed way down.”

Marotta says if Turkson becomes Pope, he knows their relationship and friendship will change, and says he will certainly miss the yearly visits.

For now, it’s a waiting game.

The Papal Apartment was sealed up in Vatican City late Thursday night, just hours after Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his position and retired from public life.  The ritual involves taping up the doors to the former pope’s bedroom and study, and then tying one of the doors with a symbolic red ribbon—a sign that nothing should be disturbed until a successor is chosen.

Overseeing the entire process was the man who will be running the Vatican until the next pontiff is chosen.  His name is Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.

Overseeing the Vatican now is Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.

78-year-old Cardinal Bertone is the Vatican’s Secretary of State—the number two to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI—and now, he’s taken control of the Apostolic Palace, until a new pope is elected.

An Italian newspaper reported last week that he was pushing the name of New York’s Cardinal — Timothy Dolan — as a papal candidate.

Papal apartment is sealed

The Papal Apartment is sealed according to tradition.

The Cardinals assembled in Rome received a letter Friday from Angelo Cardinal Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, asking them to meet this Monday, March 4, for a “general congregation”.

On Monday, they could set the date for the secret conclave that will elect the next pope.

When the Swiss Guards–in their plumed helmets and distinctive, striped uniforms–closed the large doors at Castel Gandolfo, the papal retreat south of Rome, it signaled the official end of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy.  It was 8 pm, Rome time, and the guards also took their leave of duty.

Benedict had retreated from public life three hours earlier, with a poignant message to thousands gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo.  “I am no longer the Pope,” he told the masses from a balcony window, “but I am still with the Church.  I am a pilgrim beginning the final journey of my life.”

The 85-year old pontiff had announced his resignation on February 11th, telling a group of Cardinals that his strength of body and mind had diminished to such a degree that he could no longer be an effective leader. Many have called Benedict one of the smartest popes to ever serve the Church in its 2,000 year history.

Pope Benedict Back

In the two weeks since the announcement, Italian newspapers have been filled with reports that Benedict received a 300-page dossier, back in December, from three Cardinals who’d conducted an internal investigation of the Vatican hierarchy.  According to the reports, a network of gay prelates were being blackmailed for their interactions with “worldly connections.”  The Vatican denounced one report a day later, claiming it contained many falsehoods.

Benedict’s signet ring–symbolizing the fisherman–a nod to the first pope, St. Peter–will be smashed with a tiny, silver hammer, so no other person could ever use it for official business.  Benedict, a former university professor–and the author of dozens of books–hopes to retire to a life of reading, prayer, and reflection.  He will be called Pope Emeritus and return to the Vatican in two months, to live in a former monastery that’s being renovated as his retirement home.

Friday morning, the College of Cardinals begins the business of deciding on a formal date for the secret conclave that will elect the 266th Pope.

(NEW YORK CITY) - The  2:00 p.m. mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral had its routine pageantry as well as parishioners.  It also had the former Pope on display minutes after his resignation.
In the wake of Pope Benedict’s resignation, Catholic followers are now praying for a new pope as a conclave is preparing to convene.  No date is set, since there is no mourning period following a resignation. “The atmosphere is rather serious not somber but it’s prayerful,” said Father Thomas Berg on Thursday when asked about what a conclave following a resignation might resemble.
Father Berg is a Professor of Moral Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. He shared with PIX 11 News his working relationship with Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the friendship that has emerged since his arrival to the area.  He also expects some tension as well as negotiations once the conclave begins, “Obviously they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. This is the most important decision these men will ever make in their lives.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Out of the 115 Cardinals expected, Cardinal Dolan is already a finalist on the “Sweet Sistine” bracket challenge making the rounds on the web.  In reality, Cardinal Dolan is viewed as a long-shot by many primarily for three reasons.  The first, he speaks little Italian.  Additionally, Cardinal Dolan was deposed last week in the Milwaukee church abuse scandal.

Finally, he is an American.

On the flip-side, Cardinal Dolan’s positives are his larger than life personality that knows no borders. Dolan has also been praised for his savviness when navigating politics as well as the media.

The prospect of New York City’s Cardinal Dolan becoming, is exactly what the Vatican needs according to Father Berg,  “The Vatican is very much in need of many kinds of reforms at many levels and I think most of us know that if we are honest about it and I think there is a sense among many of the Cardinals that you know an American can come in and probably do a little house cleaning.”

Father Berg is predicting that the conclave will last no more than 48 hours and will emit five plumes of smoke until a pope is confirmed.

If it happens to be Dolan, he will not use the return portion of his air fare.  Whoever the new pope is, will not leave the Vatican from the moment they are confirmed.

Rome (CNN) — In front of rapt crowds, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of moments of struggle as well as joy Wednesday during his final public address from a stage set up in St. Peter’s Square.

In an unusually personal message, he said there had been “many days of sunshine” but also “times when the water was rough … and the Lord seemed to sleep.”

But even as the church passes through stormy seas, God will “not let her sink,” he added, in what was his final general audience before he steps down Thursday evening.

Those words will be seen by many as a comment on the series of child sex abuse scandals and corruption claims that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the course of his pontificate.

Benedict recounted how when he was asked to be pope eight years ago, he had prayed for God’s guidance and had felt his presence “every day” since.

“It was a part of the journey of the church that has had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy,” he said.

Tough choices’

Dressed all in white and looking serene, the pope used his last general audience to call for a renewal of faith and speak of his own spiritual journey through eight years as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Benedict thanked the cardinals, the clergy in Rome, Vatican officials and priests worldwide for their work, as well as their congregations, saying “the heart of a pope extends to the whole world.”

Knowing his strength was fading, he had taken the step of resignation well aware of its gravity and novelty, but also “with a deep peace of mind,” he said.

“Loving the church also means having the courage to make tough choices,” he said, as he called on the faithful to pray for him and the new pope.

Benedict gave an insight into the life of the pontiff, describing it as without any kind of privacy, with his time devoted entirely to the church — perhaps particularly difficult for a man known for his love of scholarship.

His life in retirement will be “simply a return to the private place. My decision is to forgo the exercise of active ministry, not revoke it.

In order to return to private life, not to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on,” he said.

As he finished, cheers erupted from the tens of thousands gathered in the square — acknowledged by Benedict with an open-armed embrace.

‘Support and love’

Vatican officials said 50,000 tickets had been handed out for Benedict’s last general audience — but authorities said they had prepared for as many as 200,000 people to show up to witness the historic moment in person.

Benedict, who spoke first in Italian, also gave greetings in French, German and English, among other languages, reflecting the church’s global reach.

CNN iReporter Joel Camaya, a priest from the Philippines who is studying in Rome, said it was very moving to be among those gathered in the huge plaza.

Waves of applause rose up to meet Benedict, especially when he addressed the pilgrims in different languages. “I really felt all the support and all the love, the prayers, from those who were present,” he said.

After the pope left, people’s mood was festive, with many chatting or singing, Camaya said, but at the same time nostalgic because it’s the last time they will hear Benedict speak.

“Especially for people who have got used coming here for the audience and for the (Sunday) Angelus, it’s something to be missed,” he said.

Those lucky enough to have tickets for the final audience listened from seats in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Among them were many of the Roman Catholic Church’s senior clergy. Others packed around the edges of the square and surrounding side streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pontiff.

Among the crowds were groups of pilgrims who had traveled to Rome for the special occasion, as well as local residents and curious visitors keen to share in the moment.

Benedict arrived and left in his Popemobile, allowing him to pass close by many people in St. Peter’s Square.

Standing in the glass-topped vehicle, flanked by security, he waved as he slowly made his way along pathways through the crowds. Some waved flags and banners as they stood under cold but clear skies.

Normally in winter, the pope would give his weekly Wednesday general audience inside a hall within Vatican City, but the event was moved outside because of the anticipated huge crowds.

Pontiff emeritus

The pope didn’t give the usual brief personal greetings to people afterward, but was to meet with delegations of heads of state in Vatican City.

Benedict, who stunned the world’s Catholics when he announced his resignation just over two weeks ago, will leave office at 8 p.m. local time Thursday.

At that point, a transition period will begin, as around 115 cardinals gather in Rome to pick a successor in a secretive election known as a conclave.

The Vatican has been rewriting the rules to cope with an almost unprecedented situation — Benedict is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

He will meet with the cardinals Wednesday and Thursday, before being flown by helicopter to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

There, from a balcony, he will greet crowds one last time before his resignation takes effect and the Swiss Guards, who by tradition protect the pope, ceremonially leave the residence’s gate.

More details were given Tuesday of how the 85-year-old’s life in retirement will play out.

He will keep the papal title Benedict XVI, rather than reverting to the name Joseph Ratzinger, and will be referred to as “his holiness,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

He will also go by the title his holiness “pontiff emeritus” or “pope emeritus.”

Interference fears

Living out of the public eye in a small monastery within Vatican City, Benedict will wear a simple white robe, without the papal red cape, and will swap his red shoes for brown ones.

He is expected to devote his time to prayer and study.

Catholic author Michael Walsh told CNN he was unsurprised by Benedict’s desire for more privacy.

“He’s a rather private man. He wants to get back to his books and his cats, he wants to get back to prayer,” he said. “He’s obviously coming towards the end of his life — he’s 85 — so I understand that.”

But, Walsh added, “what I don’t understand is that he says he wants to be part of it all, which could be disastrous if you take it at face value,” referring to Benedict’s promise not to abandon the church.

“The notion that you have two people that claim to be pope, in a sense, is really going to be very confusing,” Walsh said.

Vatican officials have said they don’t anticipate any interference from Benedict as a new pope takes office.

However, his influence will be felt in as much as he appointed 67 of the cardinals who will enter the conclave.

Whoever his successor may be will have plenty on his plate, from allegations swirling in the Italian media that gay clergy may have made themselves vulnerable to blackmail by male prostitutes — a claim forcefully denied by the Vatican — to the festering issue of the church’s handling of child abuse by priests.

Scandal flared again over the weekend, as Scotland’s Roman Catholic archbishop was accused in a UK newspaper report of “inappropriate behavior” with priests. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who contests the allegations, resigned Monday and said he would not attend the conclave.

The Most Rev. Philip Tartaglia, archbishop of Glasgow, will take his place until a new archbishop is appointed, the Vatican said Wednesday. “These are painful and distressing times,” Tartaglia is quoted as saying.

The Vatican said Monday that a report by three cardinals into leaks of secret Vatican documents, ordered by Benedict last year and seen only by him, would be passed on to the new pontiff.

Cardinals’ conclave

Meanwhile, the cardinals who must elect the new pope are already gathering in Rome, Lombardi said.

The dean cardinal will on Friday summon the cardinals to a general congregation, Lombardi said. That could come as soon as Monday, although the date is not yet fixed.

The cardinal-electors will then decide exactly when to hold the conclave, during which they will select a peer via paper ballot. The voting process will end when only when one cardinal gains two-thirds support.

After his resignation, Benedict, who cited the frailty of age as the reason he resigned, will no longer use the Fisherman’s Ring, the symbol of the pope, Lombardi said.

The ring will be destroyed, along with Benedict’s papal seal, after his departure from offic


Cardinal Dolan at Kennedy Airport Tuesday as he prepares to leave for Rome to begin the process of electing the new pope. Latest on the PIX11 News at 5. (Mary Murphy/PIX11 News)

Two days before Pope Benedict’s historic resignation, Cardinal Dolan is gearing up to head to Rome to begin the process of electing a new Pontiff.

On Monday, Pope Benedict changed the rules allowing the College of Cardinals to move up the date to start the conclave, earlier than the fifteen day mourning period that usually occurs after a Pope’s death.

However, there is no start date as the Pope is leaving that up to the Cardinals themselves.

Cardinal Dolan told PIX11 Tuesday, that picking a date to start the Conclave will be one of the first orders of business when the 115 Cardinals get together this Friday.

Since Benedict’s announcement two weeks ago, there have been bombshell rumors plaguing the Vatican surrounding sex abuse cases and reports that Pope Benedict knew about them.

On Monday, Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’brien resigned ahead of the Conclave – the first in the history of the Vatican to not attend a conclave because of a personal scandal.

“Right now all I hear is speculation and opinions, gossips and whispers, and I am eager to know what is going on,”  says Dolan.

As for the fact that he has been named a favorite to be named the next Pope, he shrugged off those ideas.

“I have a better chance of taking Arods spot on third base than taking Pope Benedict XVI’s seat.”