Vatican accused of Cardinal O'Brien cover-up
Whatever the truth of the allegations of 'inappropriate behaviour' (ie homosexual acts) perpetrated by Cardinal O'Brien 30 years ago upon (so far) three priests and one former priest, there is something of the stench of a rotting fish emanating from the Roman Catholic hierarchy by way of response.
These allegations are serious not because Keith O'Brien is a cardinal, and not because he is a 'conservative' who has been 'hard-line' on such issues as embryology, homosexuality and marriage. They are serious because we are concerned here with historic allegations of paedophilia: the Cardinal is accused of 'inappropriate behaviour' against young seminarians who were, at the time, 18-20 years old. Male homosexuality was not decriminalised in Scotland until 1980 (the 1967 Sexual Offences Act applied to England and Wales only). The age of homosexual consent in Scotland after 1980 was 21. Ergo, Keith O'Brien is alleged not only to have flouted Roman Catholic Canon Law but transgressed the law of the land as it stood at the time. So, to satisfy his sexual urges, he was prepared not only to risk bringing scandal upon his church, but the shame of perversion upon himself - a shame which was (then) punishable with imprisonment.
Astonishingly, we now learn that the Holy See was made aware five months ago of these allegations of 'inappropriate behaviour' and the abuse of pastoral authority. But, instead of immediate punitive action against the Cardinal, The Scotsman informs us that the Holy See was involved in a cover-up:
His claim is said to have been taken seriously and led to the Vatican contacting Cardinal O’Brien and a “deal” being brokered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Montreal for the departure of the leader of Scotland’s Catholics.Certainly, the 'deal' is in scare quotes, but it isn't at all clear why. The Vatican strategy - instinct- was to hush it up and wish it all away, hoping and praying that the priest-accusers would press the matter no further as the Cardinal sailed on happily towards a scandal-free retirement.
And you can't easily attribute this to John Paul II and encroaching dementia: this was the action of the Holy See under Pope Benedict XVI - who we are told has done so much to cleanse the temple and purge the Roman Catholic hierarchy of the chronic betrayal of paedophilia and the bullying lies of systematic cover-up. Semper Eadem, indeed.
Pope Benedict spoke in 2010 of 'the shame and remorse that we all feel' towards the victims of abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic priests dating back decades: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry... your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated,” he said, contritely. Those who now accuse Cardinal O'Brien were no less betrayed, yet they are clearly not being viewed as victims by the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. Despite their personal trauma and abuse - so emotionally and spiritually profound that one lost all sense of vocation - they are the agitators, the trouble-makers, the 'homophobes'. One told The Observer that he is 'disappointed' by the 'lack of integrity' shown by the Roman Catholic Church:
"There have been two sensations for me this week. One is feeling the hot breath of the media on the back of my neck and the other is sensing the cold disapproval of the church hierarchy for daring to break ranks. I feel like if they could crush me, they would."Sworn, signed statements? Intimidating warnings and threats? It is all so eerily familiar. Nothing has changed; very little seems to have been learned.
..."The vacuum the church has created has allowed whimsy and speculation to distort the truth," the priest said. "And the only support I have been offered is a cursory email with a couple of telephone numbers of counsellors hundreds of miles away from me. Anyway, I don't need counselling about Keith O'Brien's unwanted behaviour to me as a young man. But I may need counselling about the trauma of speaking truth to power."
The former cleric says he feels that he, rather than the cardinal, has been the subject of scrutiny. "I have felt very alone and there is a tendency to become reclusive when people are trying to hunt you down."
He said he felt particularly angered by demands that the identity of the four complainants be revealed: "To those who want to know my name I would say, what does that change? And what do you think I have done wrong?"
He said that when the four came forward to the church, they were asked to make sworn signed statements to Mennini. But they were also warned that if their complaints became public knowledge, they would cause "immense further damage to the church".
These allegations are unproven; they are being made by anonymous priests and an ex-priest. Please don't judge them too harshly, for sexual abuse has life-long psychological consequences, and the bullying instincts of the powerful will stop at nothing to shame, discredit and defame the motives, integrity and sincerity of the whistle-blower.