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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ex-S.F. Archbishop Given 10-1 Odds Becoming Next Pope

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 3:15 PM

What are the odds?
  • What are the odds?
The Irish bookie site Paddypower is laying down 3-to-1 odds Pope Benedict XVI  will be ousted over accusations that he was behind misdeeds such as helping shield a priest who purportedly raped hundreds of deaf boys. But when God shuts a door, he opens a window -- and if a Pope is canned over a molestation scandal, he's got to be replaced. And Paddypower is giving former San Francisco archbishop William Levada a decent enough 10-1 shot of becoming the next pontiff.

And if protecting priests accused of child rape is an attribute befitting the vicar of Christ, Levada would seem like a natural for the papal gig.

SF Weekly has reported extensively about Levada's baroque efforts to

obscure his machinations shielding priests from rape allegations.

In January, 2006, SF Weekly's Ron Russell reported that Levada apparently lied under oath to deny allegations that he'd paid hush money to victims of a priest accused of child rape:

Levada knew about allegations that the priest had abused not one but

three male victims, and that Levada authorized secret payments to each

of them after they threatened to make the allegations public in a

lawsuit.

In July, 2005, Russell documented how Levada projected himself as a reformer on the issue of priestly sex abuse, even as victim advocates alleged he was shielding priests accused of rape. Levada even teamed up with an accused rapist to write church rules dealing with priests accused of rape.

In this ironic way, American bishops now follow a program for

dealing with sex-abuse complaints that was significantly influenced by

two men:

A Catholic priest and lawyer who has had two serious sexual-abuse

cases filed against him -- one of which the church recently agreed to

settle by paying an alleged victim $2.7 million ... And an archbishop who has helped shield the lawyer/priest for nine

years -- and who has now been appointed to what many consider to be the

Roman Catholic Church's second most powerful position.

Russell's ouvre of articles about Levada's creepy past make discomforting reading that's nonetheless necessary for those wishing to become informed Papal bettors. Our research indicates no pope has been removed from office since Gregory XII in 1415 -- the gig comes with some job security. But it is not altogether unprecedented for a pontiff to be deposed or resign; in fact, speculation was rampant the aging John Paul II would resign earlier this decade.

In

the event of a papal opening, Levada is among the seven most

"papable" cardinals, according to Paddypower.

There are reasons to short-sell Levada, however: For one, elevating him to Pope

would do little to quell the child rape scandals that plague the church.

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Matt Smith

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