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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Profiles: The American cardinals

There are currently 13 cardinals from the United States. Five are either based at the Vatican or have retired.

The remaining eight cardinals are archbishops of major cities in the United States.

Click on the links below to read short profiles.

Anthony Bevilacqua (78 years old)
Archbishop of Philadelphia

The son of Italian immigrants, Anthony Bevilacqua was born in Brooklyn, New York, one of 11 children.
Anthony Bevilacqua
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua

Because of his family history, he has taken a particular interest in the welfare of migrants and refugees.

After being ordained as a priest, he studied canon law and civil law, and taught immigration law, and qualified to practice as a civil lawyer.

He was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia in 1988 after serving as bishop in Brooklyn and Pittsburgh.

As a result of the current scandal, he is setting up a commission to examine how the church deals with cases of sexual abuse.

It will be comprised of lay people, including experts on health care, behavioural sciences and the law.

Responding to the crisis facing the church, he commented: "These past few weeks have been among the most difficult and painful times for all those affected by the sexual abuse and reports of sexual abuse of minors by some priests of this Archdiocese.

"I take this occasion, as I have many other occasions, to express my deepest apologies to all those who have suffered."

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Edward Egan (70)
Archbishop of New York

Cardinal Egan is one of the archbishops under fire over the allegations of sexual abuse by priests.
Edward Egan
Cardinal Edward Egan

Like Cardinal Law in Boston, he is facing demands for his resignation by critics who believe there has been a cover-up.

They argue that he should have acted sooner to protect children from paedophile priests.

Now, files on suspected priests are being handed over to prosecutors.

Cardinal Egan has a legal background, and was once a law professor. He helped to revise the church's Code of Canon Law.

He was appointed Archbishop of New York in 2000, and was created a cardinal the following year.

Responding to his critics, he says he has consistently acted on the best advice from medical experts and behavioural scientists.

"It is clear that today we have a much better understanding of this problem," he says.

"If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry."

Cardinal Egan says the present policy of the Archdiocese reflects the "new and better understanding" the church now has of the problem.

Before setting off for Rome to see the Pope, he said he would do everything in his power to ensure such abuse never happened again.

"You should expect nothing less of me, and the other leaders of our Church," he said.

"The abuse of children and young people is a terrible crime. It must always be for us a top priority to care for them and to protect them."

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Francis George (65)
Archbishop of Chicago

As the Archbishop of Chicago, Francis George runs the second-largest diocese in the United States.
Francis George
Cardinal Francis George

Writing on his website, he addresses the problem of sexual abuse by priests.

"There is no excuse for these despicable actions," he says.

"Sexual abuse of minors is not only shameful in itself but destructive of the lives of the innocent."

He says that in previous posts - but not in Chicago - he talked to victims of sexual abuse by priests and others.

"They are stories that cry to heaven for vengeance," he says.

"Once trust, which is the foundation of a stable life, is destroyed, it is hard to put a victim's life together again."

Cardinal George became Archbishop of Chicago in 1997, the first person born in the city to hold the post.

More than 10 years ago, well before he took over, the Archdiocese found itself at the centre of a scandal over the sexual misconduct of some of its priests.

Following a review by an independent commission, the Archdiocese adopted a series of measures for responding to such allegations. The policies introduced then are still in force today, although they are being re-examined in the light of the present crisis.

Any allegations against priests are heard by a Professional Fitness Review Board. It is made up of three clerics and six lay members, including a victim or the parent of a victim of child sexual abuse.

If the allegation appears credible, the board either recommends that the priest be removed from his ministry, pending further investigation, or be allowed to function under monitored conditions.

The Board is required to notify the public authorities responsible for child safety.

Cardinal George says the procedure appears to work, although he acknowledges that there may be other victims who have been overlooked, and who have not yet been helped.

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William Keeler (71)
Archbishop of Baltimore

Baltimore is the oldest Catholic See in the United States.
William Keeler
Cardinal William Keeler

The archbishop, William Keeler, has watched with growing concern as allegations of abuse by priests have spread across the country.

Writing on his website, he says that exposing the "darkness" of sexual abuse has brought great pain to the Church.

He continues:

"When I became the Archbishop of Baltimore, God placed in my care the spiritual lives of the people of this Archdiocese. It is a gift that I cherish.

"I promise as your Archbishop that I will do all in my power to protect our people from such abuse."

William Keeler was born in San Antonio, Texas, but spent most of his early years in Pennsylvania. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Harrisburg in 1979, and was promoted to Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989.

In 1992, he became President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was made a cardinal in 1994. In that year, the Baltimore Sun named him "Marylander of the Year".

He has worked at improving relations with other faiths, and took part in meetings with Protestant and Jewish leaders during the Pope's visit to the USA in 1987.

His work has been recognised with awards from Jewish and Muslim organisations.

He is a leading figure in the pro-life movement, and has been very active in supporting Catholic schools in the archdiocese.

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Bernard Law (70)
Archbishop of Boston

Cardinal Law has become the focus of much of the public anger over the sex abuse scandal.
Bernard Law
Cardinal Bernard Law

Many of his flock want to know why he failed to ensure that priests with a history of sexual abuse were kept away from children and young people.

The picture that has emerged is of a church leadership that preferred to move priests quietly to a new area, rather than face up to embarrassing allegations.

With damaging revelations and still more cases coming to light, Cardinal Law has been under intense pressure to resign.

Demonstrators with placards have even gathered outside his residence, calling for him to go.

Cardinal Law has said that in the past, cases of sexual abuse were handled in a way not acceptable today. He admits that "tragically incorrect" judgments were made.

He was appointed archbishop in 1984, so he was the head of the archdiocese for most of the period in which abuse by priests was taking place.

He recently travelled secretly to Rome, and raised the question of whether he should stand down.

But he returned to Boston saying he had been encouraged to continue in his job.

In a letter to priests, he wrote: "I know that there are many who believe my resignation is part of the solution. It distresses me greatly to have become a lightning rod of division when mine should be a ministry of unity.

"My desire is to serve this Archdiocese and the whole Church with every fibre of my being. This I will continue to do as long as God gives me the opportunity."

The demands for his resignation have not gone away, however, and the archdiocese will pay a heavy price for the activities of paedophile priests.

It has been estimated that legal action by victims will cost the church anything up to $100 million.

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Roger Mahony (66)
Archbishop of Los Angeles

Roger Mahony is regarded as a skilled communicator who knows how to put across his message via the media.
Roger Mahony
Cardinal Roger Mahony

As the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, he has needed that expertise in recent days.

His own church has become embroiled in the sex abuse scandal, with several priests being removed from their posts.

Cardinal Mahony says the names of all those suspected of abusing minors have been handed over to the authorities.

"Each lay and ordained worker in pastoral, health and educational fields is required to follow (California) reporting laws in order to protect our children.

"Child abuse will be dealt with promptly and responsibly whenever it emerges."

The archbishop has himself faced allegations that he molested a young woman, many years earlier.

But the "victim" was revealed to have mental problems, and her accusation was quickly dismissed by the police.

Born in Hollywood in 1936, Roger Mahony is fluent in Spanish, which he learned from the Mexicans who worked on his father's chicken farm.

He was appointed Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985. He is an internet enthusiast, and regularly takes part in forums, answering questions online.

Before moving to Los Angeles, he was the Bishop of Stockton. He has been accused of ignoring evidence that one of his priests was a dangerous child molester.

Questioned recently about the current sex abuse scandal, Cardinal Mahony was asked if he had regrets over the way it had been handled.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"If I had known in 1986 or '87 what I know in 2002, obviously we would have done things differently."

Cardinal Mahony says he does not believe that the celibacy of the priesthood leads to sexual abuse. Nevertheless, he believes the issue of celibacy should be discussed.

That is a view shared by most American Catholics but frowned on by Rome.

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Adam Maida (72)
Archbishop of Detroit

Cardinal Maida admits that mistakes have been made by the American church in dealing with the sexual abuse scandal.
Adam Maida
Cardinal Adam Maida

In a letter read in the churches of the archdiocese on Sunday, as he was travelling to Rome, the archbishop asked for forgiveness from anyone who had been abused by a priest.

Outlining the steps being taken to deal with such cases, he said the archdiocese would be opening its files on past cases and new allegations to the civil authorities.

And in future, there would be more thorough screening of candidates for the priesthood.

The cardinal said church leaders wanted to minister not just to the victims of abuse by the clergy, but also to parishioners traumatised by the sudden removal of their priest, following accusations about his conduct.

The son of Polish immigrants, Cardinal Maida is another senior cleric with legal training. In addition to a degree in canon law, he obtained a doctorate in civil law.

After serving as Bishop of Green Bay, he was appointed Archbishop of Detroit in 1990.

His archdiocese has also been caught up in the scandal. Three priests were recently removed from their parishes, and a fourth has appeared in court accused of rape.

Cardinal Maida is now planning a seminar for 800 of his priests. It will include a discussion about the treatment of members of the clergy with sexual problems.

Parishioners are being promised more accountability and more openness.

"Our primary concern is for the victims and their families," said Cardinal Maida in his letter to parishes.

"Our intent is to improve our response, making it more pastoral and ongoing."

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Theodore McCarrick (71)
Archbishop of Washington DC

One of the newer cardinals, Theodore McCarrick was installed as Archbishop of Washington in 2001.
Theodore McCarrick
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

In a recent pastoral letter, referring to the sexual abuse scandal, he wrote about the "difficult days" the Church was going through.

"Some men who have been called to holiness in a special way as priests have betrayed that trust and abandoned that call," he said.

"Only God can judge them, but we know that it is our responsibility to make sure that they are not enabled to continue their abuse of children."

While acknowledging that one case of sexual abuse was too many, he said the figures now being quoted should put the problem into context.

"Even the terrible statistics which have come out of Boston do not add up to 2% of the priests in that huge diocese.

"I wonder what profession or group has a lower rate than that?"

A New Yorker by birth, McCarrick became an auxiliary bishop in the city. Later, as Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, he achieved the distinction or ordaining more priests than any other bishop in the United States.

A long-standing interest in human rights has taken him to many parts of the world, including China, Vietnam, Rwanda and Eastern Europe.

In his pastoral letter, Cardinal McCarrick defended the celibacy of the priesthood, and dismissed suggestions that it might be at the root of the church's current problems.

Improper conduct with minors was found more often in married men, he said, and he continued:

"We reject the insinuations of our critics and we proclaim that celibacy lived for the sake of the kingdom is a road that leads to mature holiness and to genuine peace in the Lord."

But the cardinal said every local church should have in place proper procedures to weed out potential perpetrators:

"The risk of harming the children is too great to allow an unfortunate perpetrator to come into pastoral service or to return once identified, when he would possibly be drawn again into this terrible circle of temptation and sin."

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Americas
Cardinal vows to fight sex abuse
16 Apr 02 | Americas
US cardinal welcomes Pope talks
15 Apr 02 | Americas
Pope orders talks on US sex scandals
09 Apr 02 | Americas
Abuse claims dog US priests
04 Apr 02 | Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
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