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Cardinals won't discuss likely pope candidates at pre-conclave meeting

March 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The process begins Monday to select a new pope, but cardinals won't be discussing possible pope candidates at their pre-conclave meeting.

Cardinals from all over the world will meet and possibly set a date for the conclave. Traditionally, they wait to set the conclave date until all cardinals are at the Vatican.

More than 100 cardinals will be at the meeting to discuss the state of the church. They're not allowed to talk about possible candidates for the vacant pope position - it's forbidden to do so until the conclave officially begins.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles gave his first and only interview since arriving in Rome.

Recently, the church released thousands of pages of documents showing how much he covered up for pedophile priests. He told the Catholic News Service he's amazed by the controversy and that the Vatican told him to attend the conclave.

"Without my even having to inquire, the Nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, 'I have had word from the highest folks in the Vatican: you are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave,'" Mahony said.

Mahony also insisted the criticism is unfair.

"What I did in those years was consistent with what everybody did, in the Boy Scouts, in public schools, private schools, across the country," Mahony said.

The Roman Catholic Church has hit some stormy waters recently with the clerical sex abuse scandal, discord over everything from priestly celibacy to women's ordination, and most recently the betrayal by the former pope's butler who stole his private papers and leaked them to a journalist.

Church goers at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood hope the new pope can deal with the turmoil.

"Someone who is in contact with the people more than Pope Benedict was, who I think was a fine pope, but I think people felt estranged from him," said Susan Casey, a churchgoer.

Another churchgoer Paul Chavez said such difficult times call for strong leadership.

"We need a strong leader who will take control of the situation and take us into the future," said Chavez.

Pope Benedict XVI officially stepped down from power on Thursday, becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign.

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