I find the whole business of the story of Cardinal Keith O’Brien troubling, and at the same time, sadly it doesn’t surprise me. The Catholic Church has a shameful history of abuse, which the hierarchies have tried to hide. But, truth will out, and so it has over the years.
The latest scandal involves Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who has today issued a statement to apologise for conduct that fell short of what was expected. That he has done wrong according to his faith – and hopefully not committed any criminal act – is for his own conscience. That others have felt shamed and betrayed is something else. I read today that they were, perhaps threatened is too strong a word, but being leaned on to keep the story to themselves, as they risked bringing shame on the Church. This is a greater wrong. The deception, the lies, the hypocrisy of Religion.
What is perhaps more troubling, is that it was going to be swept under the carpet by Rome. Cardinal O’Brien was summoned to Rome last year, according to The Times today:
A first complaint was made against Cardinal O’Brien last October, when a parish priest from Scotland wrote to the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican.
He was summoned to Rome and it became known that he would retire as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh on his 75th birthday this month, supposedly because of ill health. A week ago allegations from four other men were made public and his resignation became immediate. It emerged yesterday that complaints included “lewd, bawdy, inappropriate behaviour” and “drunken fumblings”.
How can this institution be trusted when this is the tone from the top? I also heard today, on the Radio, that Cardinal Mahony, a US Cardinal is still entitled to vote, despite facing legal prosecution for covering up for priests who have sexually abused children. Read it here. How can one Cardinal resign, and one stay? How can it be trusted to heal itself from these endemic, systematic cover ups? It is deeply troubling.