By Vittorio Hernandez March 7 2013 3:04 AM EST
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), after giving the thumbs down on Wednesday to 12 cardinals because of their alleged bad record in handling sex abuse cases involving minors, gave the thumbs up on Thursday to three papabiles.
SNAP identified the three as Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Austria and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Ireland.
The network conceded that the Irish clergyman is not a cardinal, but Vatican does not prohibit the election of a non-cardinal as pope, although historically, it had been cardinals.
Cardinal Tagle, at age 55, is the second youngest of the 115 cardinal electors now in Vatican to pick the successor of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who resigned on Feb 28.
He was made a member of the College of Cardinals on Oct 24, 2012, making him the seventh Filipino cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.
With 85 per cent of the 100 million Filipinos being baptised Catholics, Cardinal Tagle would fit into the growing popular clamour for the new pontiff to come from third world countries which represent the bulk of the 1.2 billion Catholics across the world.
Known for his charisma and being tech savvy, Cardinal Tagle does not fit into the image of an old and doddering cardinal. A video of his homily on Feb 11 showed how he has embraced new methods of evangelisation in a bid to attract younger Filipinos to the Catholic faith.
However, he may not be favoured by some groups that seek someone with more liberal views toward controversial issues such as contraception and abortion.
But it is in his favour that those who would elect him are fellow cardinals, majority or all of whom are expected to tow the line of the official teaching of the Catholic Church.
As a delegate to the four-day conference on Healing and Renewal in Rome in February 2012, the cardinal discussed the sex abuse crisis in Asia where some priests maintain mistresses, which is the more common problem than sexual abuse of minors. His talk prompted the Vatican to launch an Internet project to help abused victims and prevent more crises.
Cardinal Schonborn, 68, was appointed a cardinal in 1998. He is a former student and long-time friend of the Pope Emeritus.
SNAP noticed him because of his handling of the abuse scandal involving former Vienna Archbishop Hans Herman Groer who was removed from his post in 1995. In 1998, the cardinal made public his belief that the archbishop was guilty of the accusations of sex abuse.
Cardinal Schonborn is known for his bold statement to Kathpress, the Austrian Catholic news agency, that "the days of cover-up are over. For a long while the Church's principle of forgiveness was falsely interpreted and was in favour of those responsible and not the victims."
He is also liberal in views and was quoted as saying in 1996 that an AIDs patient using a condom is the lesser of two evils, although he qualified the lack of affirmation that condom use is ideal in sexual relations.
But he draws the line when it comes to the topic of abortion.
Archbishop Martin, reversed the previous stand of the Dublin Archdiocese to turn over records on priests who abused children.
There are calls for Austrian Cardinal Sean Brady, now in Vatican, not to participate in the conclave because of the role he played in the 1970s when two teenage abuse victims signed vows of silence after they testified against a priest who was later discovered to be a serial sex offender.
Although bookmakers place the chance of Archbishop Martin 100-1 at the papacy, author Michael D'Antonio who has a book titled Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime and the Era of Catholic Scandal, explained to Global Post why the archbishop has slim chances to succeed Pope Benedict despite his stand on sex abuse cases.
"He's gone not only around the church in Ireland but to churches and Catholic institutions in America to apologize and call for greater lay involvement in the church and its decision-making. He's just had a far more human response to the crisis and recognized that it flows in large measure out of the clerical culture. He recognizes that the church is not the clerics, but the people. The problem does not belong to the people. It belongs to the priests, the bishops and the pope. He gets it - and I think people know that he does. But, for that reason, I think he would never be the choice," Mr D'Antonio said.