….On Monday (Feb. 18) Italy’s main weekly, the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, put the so-called “Mahony affair” on the home page of its website, quoting the petition by left-leaning group Catholic United calling the prelate to “stay home.”The magazine also asked its readers to share their thoughts on whether Mahony should attend the conclave. Within hours, the magazine received hundreds of answers via its website, overwhelmingly asking the cardinal not to come to Rome.“Cardinal Mahony should not only stay home from the conclave but retire to a life of prayer in a monastery,” read one typical comment. “It seems inconceivable to me that he doesn’t feel the moral duty to abstain from the conclave,” read another.
By Tuesday, Mahony’s case was on the front page of most of the main Italian newspapers, prompting the first reactions from within the Vatican.
In an interview with the daily La Repubblica, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the former head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs and the pope’s envoy charged with reforming the disgraced Legionaries of Christ, said that “it will be up to (Mahony’s) conscience to decide whether to take part or not.”
De Paolis stressed that there is no formal procedure to stop Mahony from attending the conclave.
“The common practice is to use persuasion. There is no more that can be done. Cardinal Mahony has the right and duty to take part,” he said. “This is a troubling situation but the rules must be followed.”
According to De Paolis, only “someone with great authority” could advise “through a private intervention” that the retired Mahony not take part.
On Tuesday, the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, a former No. 3 official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as saying that “if his presence creates difficulties or embarrassment, then I think it could be opportune to renounce.”
“But the decision is up to him and his conscience,” Girotti added.
La Caramella Buona, an Italian group for victims of sexual abuse, also called on Mahony not to attend the conclave.
But in a Monday tweet, Mahony signaled his resolve to come to Rome.