VATICAN CITY — (AP) Popular pressure is mounting in the U.S. and Italy to keep California Cardinal Roger Mahony away from the conclave to elect the next pope because of his role shielding sexually abusive priests, a movement targeting one of the most prominent of a handful of compromised cardinals scheduled to vote next month.

Amid the outcry, Mahony has made clear he is coming, and no one can force him to recuse himself. A Vatican historian also said Wednesday that there is no precedent for a cardinal staying home because of personal scandal. But the growing grass-roots campaign is an indication that ordinary Catholics are increasingly demanding a greater say in who is fit to elect the pope, and casts an ugly shadow over the solemn papal election.

Conclaves always bring out the worst in cardinals’ dirty laundry, with past sins and transgressions aired anew in the slow news days preceding the vote. This time is no different — except that the revelations of Mahony’s sins are so fresh and come on the tails of a recent round of sex abuse scandals in the U.S. and Europe.

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