A week ago Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, resigned following allegations of improper behavior. He vehemently denied the allegations but Sunday, in true Catholic style, he confessed.
The allegations involved three priests and one former priest, unnamed. According to O'Brien his denial was because they were not named. Once he knew their identities the former Cardinal admitted his improper behavior.
Sunday the former Cardinal apologised to the church and the people of Scotland admitting that his "conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal." He confirmed that he will step out of public life and retire. He will no longer have any part in the Catholic Church of Scotland.
The priests who made the allegations have revealed why they finally made their accusations public. Each of the men believed that theirs was an isolated incident. Once they realised they were not, they felt compelled to act.
O'Brien was ordained in 1965, becoming an archbishop in 1985, but was not named cardinal until 2003. The accusations date back to the 1980's but the men were left wondering how long any improper behavior had been going on.
The New York Times reports “I’d never wanted to ‘out’ Keith just for being gay,” said the former seminarian. “But this was confirming that his behavior toward me was part of his modus operandi. He has hurt others, probably worse, than he affected me. And that only became clear a few weeks ago.”
At first glance the timing of the resignation was terrible for the catholic church. Pope Benedict XVI was due to vacate the Vatican amidst allegations of sleaze in many corners of the faith. Cardinals will select a new pope and O'Brien's resignation left the U.K without representation.
Was all what it seemed though?
The four men were initially informed that the Cardinal would still go to Rome. On February 22 Cardinal O'Brien made headlines when he spoke openly about the pressures celibacy forced on Catholic clerics. The church was already aware of the four men's allegations but once O'Brien broke ranks the men learned "informally" that the Cardinal would not go to Rome.
Sunday many of O'Brien's congregation remained loyal and were supporting him. There will be a Vatican inquiry into O'Brien but it is doubtful that the findings will go public. In other words this inquiry will be meaningless.
Another tangled web of deceit. Did the hierarchy of the Holy Roman Catholic Church act to protect others or its outdated policies and existence?
Most people will conclude that the Catholic Church has become adept at covering up sex scandals and sticking to ridiculous policies. As we do not know the nature of the accusations against O'Brien assessing the situation is not easy.
One accuser, the man described in the media as a former seminarian, is now married with children. He is disappointed in the Catholic Church's lack of integrity; and certainly it seems as if the Church only acted to protect itself.
In office Cardinal O'Brien was openly anti-gay. According to wikipedia,
"In May 2005 he told members of the Scottish Parliament that homosexuals were “captives of sexual aberrations”, comparing homosexuals to prisoners in Saughton jail. In January 2006 he criticised Westminster MPs over the introduction of civil partnerships in the UK, and Holyrood members over the liberalisation of divorce laws in Scotland, In July 2006 he opposed proposals to change the law which would require Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexuals in the same way as with heterosexuals, calling them totalitarian.[dubious – discuss] In 2011 he criticised “aggressive secularism” denouncing what he claimed was the way Christians had been prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they refuse to endorse such lifestyles. On 5 March 2012, O’Brien criticised the concept of same-sex marriage on BBC Radio 4, saying it would shame the United Kingdom and that promoting such things would degenerate society further".
Prior to 2005 he was, however, more liberal. What changed we wonder? Was it Pope Bendict XVI, elected in 2005?
New York Times