Monday, 4 March 2013

An excellent post on the Cardinal O'Brien affair

Rev. Peter Ould (Anglican) is an extraordinarily balanced commentator on most subjects. This piece on the resignation of Cardinal O'Brien and the recent aftermath is excellent.


  1. As you say Father, a very balanced article.

    What strikes me so much about this case, is the incredible courage being shown by both victims and perpetrator, each of whom are breaking new ground for the Catholic Church in ways that can only be considered positive.

    Consider first of all the Cardinal: in admitting to his wrongdoing - knowing full well that he will be branded a hypocrite for doing so - is an act of enormous humility, showing a sincere desire to atone for his previous misconduct. I agree with your commentator about the dubiosity of branding this man a hypocrite before we know whether or not his misconduct was ongoing at the time he publicly spoke against such behaviour. I imagine his misdemeanors may have haunted him throughout his priestly career and he may well have lived in fear of when his past would catch up with him.

    Was it not therefore doubly courageous for the Cardinal to have been so outspoken about these matters later on in his career, knowing full well how he must have appeared, to those he abused? Maybe it was asking too much of them to hope that they might simply forgive him without an apology?

    Furthermore, by publicly admitting to and apologising for his misconduct, the Cardinal must surely have incurred the fury of the
    Church's insurers who never - but simply NEVER, advise perpetrators to own their guilt, knowing full well that even when abuse is known to have taken place, difficulty in proving such things means that only approximately 10% of such cases will result in convictions.

    However, refusal to admit wrongdoing is one of the most hurtful and damaging behaviours inflicted on abuse victims, by a church which preaches the need to confess our sins to one another...That's what I call hypocrisy, so well done Cardinal O'Brien, for trying to be someone who actually practises what the church preaches! Even if it makes you look ridiculous and angers the insurers.

    It's high time the Church began to give both victims and perpetrators the support they need to deal with the enormous emotional fallout of these situations, in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Church, instead of - as is currently the case - ignoring all the advice of the Safeguarding and victim support professionals (they are just a shop front, to look good on the letterheads) and using their insurers as Safeguarding consultants.

    Anyone who thinks I exaggerate, just ask yourself why the victims resorted to going to the media? Because they were driven to it maybe?

    In truth these priests knew all too well that unless they reported the matter to the media, it would never be addressed and simply covered up, along with all the other cases where victims have in all sincerity, reported abuse to the church in order to prevent others from being hurt, only to find themselves being re-abused by a church which either ignores them, fobs them off or treats them as money-grubbing mercenaries on the make.

    If you don't believe me, read again what the former priest said about experiencing the cold disapproval of the church for daring to break ranks by doing his duty in reporting the abuse. A church who despite saying in their Safeguarding literature how supportive they are of abuse victims, left that particular victim in no doubt that they would in his own words, "crush" him, if they could.

    Let's pray that the bravery of all concerned marks a positive turning point in the Church's handling of abuse cases.

  2. Thank you Ann. I agree completely.