More sex scandal in the Catholic church: Cardinal of Scotland resigns because of sexual improprieties

I don’t know what is going on in the Vatican, or how much truth there is to the rumors of a secret sex club that led to Ratzi’s resignation, but the troubles in the Church continue to mount.  Just today, the Cardinal of Scotland, Keith O’Brien, the Vatican’s senior official in the UK, resigned amidst rumors of (his) sexual improprieties:

A report in Saturday’s Guardian gives details, and the pattern is  familiar:

Three priests and a former priest in Scotland have reported the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, to the Vatican over allegations of inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years.

The four, from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, have complained to nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, and demanded O’Brien’s immediate resignation. A spokesman for the cardinal said that the claims were contested.

O’Brien, who is due to retire next month, has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, condemning homosexuality as immoral, opposing gay adoption, and most recently arguing that same-sex marriages would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”. Last year he was named “bigot of the year” by the gay rights charity Stonewall.

One of the complainants, it is understood, alleges that the cardinal developed an inappropriate relationship with him, resulting in a need for long-term psychological counselling.

The four submitted statements containing their claims to the nuncio’s office the week before Pope Benedict’s resignation on 11 February. They fear that, if O’Brien travels to the forthcoming papal conclave to elect a new pope, the church will not fully address their complaints.

“It tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs,” said one of the complainants. “The church is beautiful, but it has a dark side and that has to do with accountability. If the system is to be improved, maybe it needs to be dismantled a bit.”

This is what happens when an authority figure grossly abuses his power.

It is understood that the first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant, who is now married, was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, where O’Brien was his “spiritual director”. The Observer understands that the statement claims O’Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.

The seminarian says he was too frightened to report the incident, but says his personality changed afterwards, and his teachers regularly noted that he seemed depressed. He was ordained, but he told the nuncio in his statement that he resigned when O’Brien was promoted to bishop. “I knew then he would always have power over me. It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity.”

In a second statement, “Priest A” describes being happily settled in a parish when he claims he was visited by O’Brien and inappropriate contact between the two took place.

In a third statement, “Priest B” claims that he was starting his ministry in the 1980s when he was invited to spend a week “getting to know” O’Brien at the archbishop’s residence. His statement alleges that he found himself dealing with what he describes as unwanted behaviour by the cardinal after a late-night drinking session.

“Priest C” was a young priest the cardinal was counselling over personal problems. Priest C’s statement claims that O’Brien used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.

This is what happens when you take a bunch of single males and forbid them all sexual contact. Men are not so constituted by evolution as to abstain wholly from sexual acts. It works itself out in these ways, and the only way to stop it is to eliminate the odious doctrine of forcible celibacy.  That, mixed with the huge and unquestioned authority of priests and their immersion in toxic superstition, almost guarantees that these things will happen.

Oh, and there’s this little tidbit:

O’Brien has been an outspoken critic of gay rights, denouncing plans for the legalisation of same-sex marriage as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved”. He was named bigot of the year in 2012 by the gay rights group Stonewall because of his central role in opposing gay marriage laws in Scotland.

Cardinal O'Brien

Cardinal O’Brien

96 Comments

  1. Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    surprise, surprise.

  2. Mal
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    What a surprise! Gross hypocrasy from a representative of the Catholic Church. This is the man who said in 2011:

    “Perhaps more than ever before there is that ‘aggressive secularism’ and there are those who would indeed try to destroy our Christian heritage and culture and take God from the public square”
    “Religion must not be taken from the public square.
    “Recently, various Christians in our society were marginalised and prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they were not willing to publicly endorse a particular lifestyle.”

    How ironic. No doubt he will continue not to endorse that lifestyle.

  3. el_slapper
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “eliminate the odious doctrine of forcible celibacy”

    Amen. May God hear you. Let’s pray for this happening. Or whatever a good atheist says for the telling same thing(I’ve been too much to the church on recent weeks, it seems).

    The only reason for that barbarism that the clergy inflicts to itself was Church’s important wealth. Therefore, it was supposed to prevent any inheritance conflict between (now inexistant or illegal) heirs & the church.

    As most rules that once made a sense & have been enforced by religious authorities, it survives it usefulness through being part of the belief. Pork ban is the same kind of religious belief for unreligious reasons.

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Whatever the reason for the rule what it does is more important.
      First of all the men only rule acts as a filter to screen out men who can care about women, not just admitting homosexuals who might or might not care but also favouring men who deeply despise women. Then the hierarchy concentrates the evil as it goes up the ladder until you have a select few who are so cognitively dissonant that they believe god wills the suffering in the world and that they are just his humble agents.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Yes, I see what you’re saying about the celibacy requirement being a “religious belief for [non]religious reasons”.

      But the original reason was also a vile selfish one, which only “makes sense” from the perspective of a greedy, uncaring authoritarian regime.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      “Amen. May God hear you.”

      If the Church is in some sense in exclusive communication with the Lord of all creation, and this celibacy policy is indeed causing more harm than good and God knows this, then why is it still in existence?

      Is it possible that those chosen few with the access to the communication have willfully ignored it? And what else have they ignored?

      As an atheist, it just seems more parsimonious that the Church leadership receives no such communication of perfect knowledge (probably because of the non-existence of the Communicator), and are just a collection of rather confused old men.

      • Dermot C
        Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        “eliminate the odious doctrine of forcible celibacy”

        Well, I don’t think this forcible celibacy question has been examined rigorously enough. Contra JAC, who appears to claim that you can’t stop young men from trying to get their way (an idea which reminds me of the semi-pornographic Lynx advert mentality which underpins the Islamic fantasy of heaven), I think you can, and the answer lies in the historical traditions of the Orthodox Church: eunuchism.

        That would sort out all these sex-related scandals, possibly darken and ameliorate the machiavellian arts required of the lowest priest right up to the highest cardinal; it would have the added benefit that no snarky New Atheist could ever accuse them of not really believing in God’s good grace.

        Distesticulation is the way forward: with the added unintended consequence that we might enjoy baroque castrati airs, sung and heard as they were supposed to be. Everybody wins!

        • Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          Sorry but I couldn’t stop cringing after the first paragraph : )

        • Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Re: last para

          Well, I’m sold!

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      Yet only the Roman church requires priestly celibacy. Parish priests in Orthodoxy must marry, Bishops must not. Anglicans and Protestants have no such rule.

      Does it not (also) arise from the mistranslation of the word for a young girl, by which Mary became a virgin? Yet the OT/Hebrew scriptures begin the trend of being down on sex/women, even before that.

  4. Mattapult
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    “This is what happens when you take a bunch of single males and forbid them all sexual contact.”

    I think the problem goes deeper. Some men enter the clergy with deep sexual frustrations. They think the vows of celibacy and the “goodness” of the church will help them with their problems. Of course, they find themselves with immense power over those they are tempted by.

    All along they learn than no man is perfect–unlike “God”; and that God is patient and loving, and forgives all sins. They even learn to preach it. So while they abuse their power, they probably ask for forgiveness, receive it, carry on doing God’s work, and assume they will get into heaven after all.

    • Charles Jones
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      I agree: My guess is that the required vows of celibacy disproportionately attract people who are uncomfortable with their sexuality.

  5. Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    It takes courage, perseverance, and salubrious faith to lead such a crotch-centered life.

  6. Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I’d say that it’s the rule rather than the exception that a Catholic priest is a twisted up man.

    I do feel sorry for them in a way. They may go into the church to make sure God helps them with the sex and then when their god utterly fails since it’s imaginary, they are completely stuck in the tarbaby of religion.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      “Tarbaby?” I’m guessing you are not American. That term has some pretty nasty connotations here. It clearly was not intended that way, but it’s a term that can be terribly offensive to many people.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        No kidding, it’s clearly not intended “that way”. I’m not going to change my words because someone “might” consider it offensive because they are ignorant. I’m an american, know the bre’r rabbit stories very well and know exactly what tar baby is. A baby made of tar that you get trapped in if you are stupid and violent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar-Baby . I’m not so stupid to think that a child who happens to have ancestry within around 20 degrees of the equator is anything of the kind; and if someone is, then it is their problem.

        • Matt Bowman
          Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          Still, someone might find it offensive because they are NOT ignorant. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar-Baby#Racist_interpretation OED “a derogatory term for a Black (U.S.) or a Maori (N.Z.)” And: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar-Baby#Popular_culture You can find the Disney version on youtube by searching Brer Rabbit. The Disney cartoon is offensive and adds to the sensitivity surrounding that word.

          I’m not trying to pile on here. I just think that your defense of the word should be countered, and maybe you should rethink using it because you end up offending people that you never intended to offend.

          • Posted February 25, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

            If you didn’t mean to pile on, you would have not added to this nonsense, so please don’t bother with the false claims. If anyone reads my post they know the word in context and then there should be no problem. If they must take words out of context to gin up feelings of martyrdom for themselves, then their feelings mean nothing to me.

            • Matt Bowman
              Posted February 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

              Well then please continue to use the word often and in the company of all. Just be quick to explain the context…you wouldn’t want anyone to misinterpret.

              • Posted February 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

                Hmm… Philip Roth and “spooks”?

              • Posted February 26, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

                Again, Matt, the context is in what I’m saying, not what someone must find to make up to insist that they are so very politically correct. There is the story about the instance where some people were distressed that the word “niggardly” was used. They were *sure* it was a racist remark. It wasn’t and to put the onus on the speaker rather than those that are knee-jerk reactionaries and ignorant is lazy and unfair.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted February 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

              If anyone reads my post they know the word in context and then there should be no problem.

              Not without researching the arcana of Southern USA-ian slang we wouldn’t.
              I can vaguely remember there being some mention of Br’er Wotsit in an English Language (or Literature? whatever) class decades ago, but I guess I was doing something important like my maths homework and picked up nothing else of the content.

              • Posted February 26, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

                ah, so *you* immediately assume that a tar baby is a person with dark skin, not a baby made out of tar as it started off as and is a direct descendant from African myths where Anasi made a gum doll to trap someone. That’s your problem, not mine.

              • gbjames
                Posted February 26, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

                Language is a shared thing. You can not hide behind benign intent once you know that the people hearing/reading your words understand the word to be offensive. If you insist on using the term in what amounts to a culturally idiosyncratic way, then the problem IS yours.

              • microraptor
                Posted February 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

                Clubschadenfreude, you used a term that you apparently knew beforehand had an highly derogatory meaning, and after this was commented on by other posters you’ve insisted that it’s the fault of political correctness because that’s not the original context of the word, as if context can’t change over time.

                Sorry, but that’s your problem.

          • Gordon
            Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

            Can’t be that common in New Zealand as I have never heard it used to describe a Maori. May well be wrong though.

            • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

              Me neither.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 26, 2013 at 1:16 am | Permalink

                Nor me. And I’ve heard plenty of racist terms and derogatory references to Maori over the years (as I’m sure anybody anywhere has to their respective racial minorities), but never ever that one. It just strikes me as utterly bizarre and makes me wonder who the OED was talking to.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        Can you suggest an alternative? Chinese finger-trap? Quicksand? Neither has the tarbaby effect that struggling to get out gets you in further.

        • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

          “struggling to get out gets you in further” – which isn’t actually applicable to priests and religion. Religion offers a different trap: that having spent years training for the priesthood, you’re not much good for anything else – though some who escape find useful work in counselling and other social work.

          • gbjames
            Posted February 26, 2013 at 5:19 am | Permalink

            And in atheist activism.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          Now I’m completely confused by what a “tarbaby” is. Quicksand – been there (got stuck knee-deep ; worked out what was happening ; worked out from basic sedimentology how to get out ; got out), understand that. “Chinese finger traps” – used them for hauling hundreds of kilos of cable up derricks ; fiddly but I never experienced any “trapping” problems with them (I can see how it could happen though. Once. Per user.)
          I’ll just file the word under “confused usage” and then not use it.

    • RFW
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      My limited acquaintance with RC priests is that they all have an oily, unctuous manner that is very off putting, even downright offensive. I’ve known priests who had left the priesthood and came out, but their mannerisms didn’t change one iota.

      One might conclude that a lot of seminary training is nothing more than brain washing.

      A reminder that the Catholic church has married priests in its Eastern rite wings. It’s only the Roman branch that has the celibacy requirement. This raises the interesting question whether the Orthodox churches with their married clergy have a lower incidence of child exploitation.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        “My limited acquaintance with RC priests is that they all have an oily, unctuous manner that is very off putting, even downright offensive.”

        The belief that you are God’s representative, combined with the sense that this belief could not stand up to a few minutes of honest skepticism, tends to produce this kind of attitude. It’s a defensive maneuver.

        It gets really obvious in debates with folk who do not share their unsupported presuppositions about the nature of reality. Some of these guys look like they have entered a boxing ring with the expectation that the opponent is not allowed to throw punches at them (or rather, their arguments).

      • Graham
        Posted February 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        “It’s only the Roman branch that has the celibacy requirement.”

        Not quite true. The Vatican’s always keen to poach the disaffected faithful from the Church of England- so keen that it’s prepared to compromise its principles and allow married C of E vicars to become RC priests and still remain married. The father of a colleague of mine is just such a person. He’s a Catholic priest with a wife & family, all nicely approved of by the Vatican.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1226449/Pope-allows-married-men-priests-bid-attract-Anglican-recruits.html

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        “All” is a bit of an exaggeration. I’ve known priests who were quite matter-of-fact and down to earth. But they still believed some amazingly mad stuff.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 26, 2013 at 1:21 am | Permalink

          I have to say the only Catholic bishop I’ve ever had dealings with was remarkably businesslike, polite (not unctuous!) and genuinely public-spirited. (It was about running a big flood-relief drain under one side of the cathedral grounds, he could easily and legitimately have objected on grounds of land value but he readily gave his assent).

          Okay that’s a sample of one but I guess it shows one can’t over-generalise.

  7. darrelle
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Nice hat.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Did he get a free bowl of soup with that hat?

  8. gbjames
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    What most amazes me is how millions of Catholics continue to support this dreadful institution.

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Wow, me, too. I am to the point that I can’t even look at a Catholic person without thinking to myself, “Just how gross does it have to get before it begins to bother you?”

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Ditto here.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

        Talking about my family, yup.

    • ltunmer
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Indeed. When Benedict first announced his resignation, my immediate first thought was: what scandal is waiting in the wings that forced his hand. My second thought was: what possible scandal can there be that will actually make a real dent in the support that the church enjoys? They already have on their resume: money laundering, contacts with the Mafia, child rape and covering it up, and effective slavery of young women in Ireland. Plus, of course, their general antipathy towards human rights in general.

      Yet this weekend we see thousands of the faithful gather outside the Vatican to see the Pope’s last gig. What on earth could this vile establishment now do that will finally open the eyes of these sorts of believers? Is there any crime or scandal that will finally be the tipping point in the collapse of the church?

      I know – I have the Monday morning blues.

      • Mary Canada
        Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        I share your inquiries. If any other non-religious organisation behaved in the same manner, (I’m assuming) we’d hear many politicians ranting about it and promising to make sure justice is served.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        “Is there any crime or scandal that will finally be the tipping point in the collapse of the church”

        Probably not, because the Church will always argue that while people can be evil, the Holy Roman Catholic Church as established by God is pure and perfect. And more often than not, secular influences will be blamed for any evil perpetrated by its members. Or Satan.

        Ironically, Catholic apologists often use the immoral acts as evidence for the existence of Satan and also the importance of the Church. See, look how the Dark one attacks us so much these days – we must truly be God’s chosen representatives.

        I just hope that the trend of Catholic apathy continues in the West and the RCC becomes as toothless as the Anglican Church.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      So much of the continued existence of the Catholic Church in the US is due to Catholic schools. Parents who are the most lackadaisical of Catholics will often send their kids to Catholic schools, and given the state of some of the public schools, this isn’t always a bad choice when you weigh the pros/cons.

      • gbjames
        Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Well, so will atheist parents. Our son went to a Catholic 8th grade and high school (a rather liberal one). He turned out an atheist like his parents. (It is a long story.)

        • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

          I would have real problem with this. I may turn out to be a hypocrite, but I can’t imagine giving money and legitimacy to the Catholic Church, even a very liberal one.

          • gbjames
            Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            Believe me, I did have trouble with it. But one makes one’s choices in life based on the specifics of the situation. He (my son) was also a Boy Scout. He resigned (brilliantly, I might add) when he became aware of the BSA policy on gays and atheists. A proud moment for his dad.

            • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

              Maybe it’s different with a son. But unless my wife and I find ourselves in some very strange circumstances, I can’t see us sending our daughter to an institution that has as one of its core doctrines that women cannot hold leadership positions within it.

              • gbjames
                Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

                No, IMO. It isn’t a gender thing. (I have two kids, one is a girl who went to a public high school but did suffer a couple of years in a Catholic grade school.)

                There are a gazillion factors involved with raising kids. You have to choose among the options you have at hand, not the ones you wish you had. (Sorry if that sounded Rumfeldian! ;)

                Real life is more complicated than one would prefer.

              • Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

                I seem to recall a quote from our dear Mr. Hitchens that is very relevant to this discussion. In Letters to a Young Contrarian, at one point he is speaking about how one of the jobs of an intellectual to is to simplify things that are complicated. However, he remarks that issues that are actually quite simple are often made unnecessarily complicated, and that this often happens in moral matters.

                Yes, “life is complicated”, followed by the implication that one’s interlocutor is too naive or young to understand this, is a reasonable justification in some instances for behavior that compromises one’s stated convictions. I just don’t see it happening with my stance on Catholic education unless some extremely bizarre and/or unfortunate circumstances come about.

              • gbjames
                Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

                I made no implication that “one’s interlocutor is too naive or young to understand this” (depending on what you are inferring).

                Your circumstances are different than mine. And mine were different than what I thought they might be before they became mine. If that follows.

              • Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                “And mine were different than what I thought they might be before they became mine.”

                Fair enough. If in 6 years I am taking my daughter to Our Lady of the Immaculate Hair elementary school, you can remind me of this post! : )

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

          My atheist daughter chose to go to a Catholic High School. It was…an “interesting” 4 years…

  9. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Spiffy hat.

    • Sunny
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      But you haven’t seen the shoes. I read somewhere that the Pope wears Prada.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        I can’t resist remarking thus:- Cobblers ! :)

        According to the Gentleman’s Gazette

        Adriano Stefanelli, from Novara near Milan, is the Pope’s personal shoemaker

        In 2002 he sent a pair of his handmade red shoes to Pope John Paul II and he was so impressed by these, that he became a customer of Stefanelli

        Pope Benedict continued the tradition of having the shoes made at Stefanelli. However, while John Paul II preferred to wear dark red leather shoes, Pope Benedict prefers the classic ruby red

        In September 2005, Stefanelli was able to give a pair of shoes to John Benedict during a public audience on St. Peter’s Square. This put rumours to an end that Prada had made the shoes for the pope

        • Posted February 26, 2013 at 2:42 am | Permalink

          “Pope Benedict prefers the classic ruby red”

          And before too long, will he click his heels together, say “There’s no place like Home, there’s no place like Home!” and pop his clogs?

  10. Jean Dubois
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Silly man, now he will burn in hell for ever!

  11. Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    All those people who claim that science is incompatible with Catholicism should realise that many scientists have been Catholics, sometimes leading Catholics.

    It is just absurd to claim that you can’t be a Catholic and a scientist.

    To clarify,as I just skimmed the post, are we talking about science or sexual deviancy?

    • ltunmer
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I don’t think anyone here _is_ claiming that someone cannot be a scientist and a Catholic. However that person is certainly not applying consistency in how they practice these two different endeavours.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Well, they might be. But if they are then they either aren’t practicing science properly or they are not really a Catholic.

        And I would go a whole lot farther than saying “no one here is claiming that,” but our host prefers we don’t ridicule each other unless egregiously provoked. But I will say that most people here are saying that anyone who makes the argument Steven Carr made is not paying attention to what “we” have been saying over and over and over again, and that responding to us with the stale cliche argument he used here amounts to a non sequitur.

        • Posted February 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          I think Steven Carr is being humorous in a very subtle way here – sexual deviancy is as compatible with Catholicism as is science, if that proof is demonstrated by the fact that some Catholics are scientists.

          • darrelle
            Posted February 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            I think you may be right. It just went right over my head. Sorry Steven Carr, my subtle irony detector apparently needs a tune up.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      You can be a Catholic and a scientist in the same way that a vegetarian can eat a steak from time to time. You can do it, but it doesn’t make much sense.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Are you looking for the next post down? This post is indeed about sex crimes and the Catholic church.

    • Matt Bowman
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Move along Steven. Not only do you admit to not reading the post, you did a crap job of skimming it. Catholics can be scientists? No shit! But this post is about a Cardinal, not a scientist. Although he does have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, proving your point that yes, indeed, a Catholic can learn a bit of science. Clearly the science education didn’t take because O’Brien turned out to be nothing more than a megalomaniacal, abusive, homophobic, science-hating windbag.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        ‘Clearly the science education didn’t take because O’Brien turned out to be nothing more than a megalomaniacal, abusive, homophobic, science-hating’

        But surely that means that being a megalomaniacal, abusive, homophobic, science-hating person is totally compatible with Catholicism :-)

        After all, that is the argument they use to ‘prove’ that science and Catholicism are compatible….

  12. Ken Pidcock
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Isn’t O’Brien the guy who claimed that, without belief, we aren’t fully human?

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      That was Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor.

      I agree it is hard to keep track of which outrage which Cardinal has committed.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        That particular Cardinal may or may not have known that a priest in his diocese, Michael Hill, was a child sex abuser.

        Perhaps nobody told the Cardinal that?

        • Matt Bowman
          Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          NO, he DID know

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_abuse_scandal_in_Arundel_and_Brighton_diocese#Michael_Hill_affair

          “Instead of reporting Hill to the police, Murphy-O’Connor allowed the crime to be covered up and transferred Hill to Gatwick Airport chapel, where the Cardinal believed he would not be able to molest children. In 1997, Hill was finally convicted as a child molester and jailed for sexually assaulting nine children. After three years in jail, Hill was given another five years for assaulting three other boys.[3][4]“

  13. Veroxitatis
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    He’s gone. He’s toast and no Roman holiday for him. Resigned citing ill health. Well, it could hardly be in order to spend more time with his family.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      “Well, it could hardly be in order to spend more time with his family”

      Ouch.

  14. Bob Carlson
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    …the only way to stop it is to eliminate the odious doctrine of forcible celibacy.

    As odious as it seems to us now, it was a tremendous factor in the success of the bureaucracy of the Catholic church, and that, in turn, had important consequences for the nature of the development of the politics of western Europe. That case is made by Francis Fukuyama in his book, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. Celibacy was instituted to allow the church to retain and acquire properties that would have been lost to the church by being inherited by descendants of the clergy. The church’s influence on the rules of inheritance and the development of the rule of law in western Europe constrained the impact of tribalism and patrimony there in a way that permitted the development of western-style democracy, for which the church bureaucracy also served as a model. Although Fukuyama doesn’t describe it as an accident of history, it seems to me that it was that instead of being something the church intended. So we might as well think of the church and Christianity as something we couldn’t have avoided before people like Darwin and Robert Ingersoll made it clear that we don’t need them any more.

    • microraptor
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      There’s a correlation/causation problem with that argument.

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      1. Fukuyama and Carlson have it right but there needs to separate the Church (an organization) from religion from theology.

      2. Sex as a device of the young which assures reproduction. Eventually testosterone “dries up” [as I, a 92-year-old male can attest with pleasure].

      In my opinion, honest and scientifically accurate instruction of the pubescent about the anatomy, physiology, and psychology of sex by qualified instructors in indispensable.

  15. Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I suspect that Benedict realized that the only reason he was elected Pope was because he had such a hard line on keeping sex scandals secret. He wasn’t elected because he was a “man of God”, but because he was protecting the perpetrators of abuse against children, nuns and other vulnerable people in the Church.

    Realizing that he was being used by the perpetrators must have struck a nerve. If he had a shred of decency or faith, he would have to resign.

    If my scenario is correct, then he is resigning because he feels he is not competent to be Pope, and that he is unable to enact the changes in the Church that are needed. He knows that he is being indited on Crimes Against Humanity charges for covering up the sexual abuse of children. What if he plead guilty and named all the other perpetrators? All they would do is put him in prison for the rest of his life. Being in prison in the Vatican is not that different.

    Purging the Church of all the perpetrators would help it a lot, or destroy it completely. Of course the perpetrators won’t let that happen. If Benedict dies quickly, he was likely murdered.

    • RFW
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      That indictment is more likely to be in the court of public opinion than a court of law. But do not have the sadz at this prospect: society exacts far harsher (though different) penalties than the law, and there is no appeal from them.

  16. bric
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    A handy list

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sexually_active_popes

    • gbjames
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      That list is incomplete. I would be surprised if any of the popes didn’t belong on it for one reason or another.

  17. Marta
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    And in other good news, Ratzinger, Pope Bendict’s last day is this Thursday, 8p (Italy).

    I’m sure the conclave will elect a lovely authoritarian anti-semitic homophobic misogynist to replace him, so it’ll be like Benedict never left.

    • RFW
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      You just never know. The conclave may, behind the wall of secrecy, turn into a pitched battle between conservatives who think they can continue the same ol’, same ol’, and conservatives who realize the handwriting is on the wall, the jig is up, and they’re going to have to elect a pope with a progressive outlook if their church is to survive very much longer.

      Such a battle would also be between those cardinals with entrenched positions of power within the Vatican and those who recognize the absolute need for root and branch reform.

      If the conclave elects another conservative hardliner, expect to see ever increasing numbers of Catholics leaving the church.

      We may yet all be pleasantly surprised – but I won’t be holding my breath.

    • Dave
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Wonder what name he’ll take. I’m hoping for ‘Maledict the First’ as that would be a lot more accurate description (of any of them).

  18. Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    (continued)

    In my opinion, it is important to abolish the idea that masturbation is sinful and/or shameful and encourage the young to use it as a pleasurable way to stop unneeded reproduction, abortion, over-population, and the consequent destruction of the planet.

    by a Presbyterian clergyman (widowed after 46 years of a good marriage) with four adult children, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren)

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      IMHO, the problem with the RCC and sex is that much of their doctrine flows from some basic propositions that are considered sacrosanct. For instance, their doctrines against gay sex, sex outside of marriage, and masturbation all are based on the belief that only certain forms of sex are “ordered”, and consistent with the will of God, and others are disordered. They attempt to define these terms very precisely.

      So accepting masturbation would be hard to do without some major reengineering of principles that are not supposed to be reengineered. It is similar to the pickle they are in with regard to stem cell research.

  19. Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    One of the complainants says, “The church is beautiful . . .”

    What is beautiful about the church? Can the complainant list some of the beautiful? He is talking crap!

    • gbjames
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      It is what you hear from Catholics who can’t bring themselves to just chuck the whole thing. They insist on the “a few bad apples” view of the rotten barrel.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      He’s obviously talking about the stained glass, fan vaulting, renaissance art and certain pieces of liturgical music.

      I don’t understand how dismantlement could improve the art and architecture, but what else in the church could he be calling ‘beautiful’?

  20. revjimbob
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Another nail in the coffin for the Catholic Church.
    The last seminary in Scotland closed a few years ago – no one wants to become a priest any more!

    • Hempenstein
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      I kinda wondered why there were any Cardinals in Scotland to begin with / in the 21st century anyway.

  21. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Did any of the British contributors here see any of the detail that Jerry has put in the original article above? Or has there been the usual “We’re afraid of the libel lawyers” self-censorship by the British media.
    (I admit to having paid almost no attention to the news and not read a newspaper more recent than Saturday’s. I’ve been on the road for much of the last day and a bit. Nothing detailed on Radio 4, and none of the rest of the broadcast media are worth tuning to except for traffic reports.)

  22. Marvol
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer man.

    Pity he had to apparently damage a few innocent bystanders in the process.

  23. rosecross
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I guarantee you this priest has been repeating this behavior for 30 years. Why does this Church pretend the problem is gone? Clean your house church!


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