The next pope must be “very aware” of the need for vigilance in preventing clergy sex abuse and accept a policy of “zero tolerance” as the universal law of the church, said Chicago’s Cardinal Francis E. George.
The cardinal, who will vote in the upcoming papal election, spoke to journalists March 4 between sessions of the first day of pre-conclave meetings at the Vatican.
Asked if he would consider a candidate’s approach to “sexual misconduct by clergy” when choosing the next pope, Cardinal George said “that will be an important issue” because sex abuse is a “terrible wound on the body of the church.”
“Whoever’s elected pope,” the cardinal said, “obviously has to accept the universal code of the church now, which is zero tolerance for anyone who has ever abused a minor child, (who) therefore may not remain in public ministry in the church. So that has to be accepted.”
“I think that will not be a problem,” he added. “There’s a deep-seated conviction, certainly on the part of anyone who’s a pastor in a diocese, that this has to be continually addressed.”
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