NORTH HOLLYWOOD ( — Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony was in Rome Thursday despite protestors’ calls for him to abstain from taking part in Pope Benedict XVI’s farewell and the upcoming conclave.

“I’m not happy with it, but the Church makes those decisions,” said Daryl Joseph, who attends Mahony’s home parish, St. Charles Borromeo, in North Hollywood.

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Church parishioners prayed Thursday as Pope Benedict XVI ended his eight-year papacy and became the first pope in 600 years to resign.

“He looked pretty weak in front of the cameras,” parishioner Tony Doria said. “I think he did the right thing, really. God bless him.”

Mahony is one of more than 100 cardinals who will select the Church’s new leader.

“Pope Benedict XVI met with all of the Cardinals who were in Rome for the Conclave,” Mahony wrote on his blog Thursday morning. “I asked him to pray deeply for the Church across Southern California, especially for victims of abuse and for our immigrant brothers and sisters. He promised to include all in his prayers.”

Prior to his trip to Rome, Cardinal Mahony faced a petition to withdraw from taking part in the conclave after he was recently stripped of public duties after allegations that he protected priests accused of sex abuse.

The Vatican Press Office published a communique from the Secretariat of State Saturday regarding the cardinal electors and the upcoming conclave.

“It is deplorable that, as we draw closer to the moment that the Conclave will begin and the Cardinal electors will be held — in conscience and before God — to freely express their choice, there is a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable, or even completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions,” the statement said.

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“In addition, in an amendment concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, stated that ‘no Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext,'” the Archdiocese of Los Angeles added in a statement released Monday.

Parishioners are hoping the next pope will bring changes.

“I’m looking for someone who can modernize the Church, put the scandals behind us and move forward,” Daryl Joseph said.

“Hopefully they’ll go younger, so he can manage all of the problems around the world,” Helen Esguerra said.

The cardinals are expected to meet Monday to set a date for the conclave.


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