Random Thoughts

Cardinal Keith O'Brien: Time to Forgive & Let Him Find His Inner Peace

3 Mar 2013 at 18:58

This is the statement just released by Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them. However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal. To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Who’d have thought? I will be far more Christian in my response to the Cardinal than he has been to the hundreds of thousands of gay people he has offended with his bigoted, homophobic remarks down the years. It is an interesting psychological phenomenon for someone to be so hateful against a group of people which he knew in his heart he belonged to. It was a special form of self-loathing. However, I have a degree of sympathy with his position. He grew up at a time when to admit to be homosexual was shameful. It wasn’t only his church that told him it was a sin, so did society. He wouldn’t have anyone to relate to, to discuss it with. He would have had to deal with it on his own. And occasionally, it would get the better of him. We can all, surely, show some empathy.

However, it still doesn’t explain some of more lurid statements he has made down the years about the so-called wickedness of homosexuality. He didn’t have to support gay marriage, but to describe it a a threat to world peace and liken it to some form of slavery, was perhaps going just a little far. 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 December 2011 he said

The empirical evidence is clear, same-sex relationships are demonstrably harmful to the medical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, no compassionate society should ever enact legislation to facilitate or promote such relationships, we have failed those who struggle with same-sex attraction and wider society by our actions.”

By all accounts the Cardinal is actually a very nice man, The Independent reports…

“He’s very kind, very pastoral, a very good priest,” says a London-based Catholic journalist, who recalls how, at the end of a meeting, he insisted on driving her editor to the station to catch her train. According to John Haldane, Professor of philosophy at St Andrews University, his hardline image is sharply at odds with his character: “He is actually a very sociable, jovial man… he says everything with a smile, and should not be mistaken for some dour harbinger of doom.”

No gay man or woman should rejoice in Cardinal O’Brien’s downfall and fall from grace. If we do, we become no better than him. I hope he comes to terms with his sexuality and the events of the past few weeks. It must have taken some courage to admit to his past in this manner and he will detest the public ridicule that will no doubt come his way in certain parts of the Scottish media. As they say in Church circles ‘May inner peace be upon him’.