O’Brien’s resignation exposes a panic-struck Church riddled with hypocrisy and guilt

IN A move indicative confusion, disarray and blind panic in the Vatican, Ratzinger has reportedly forced the immediate resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, following allegations against him of “inappropriate” homosexual behaviour.

Ratzinger, himself due to step down on Thursday,  forced the abrupt resignation of O’Brien as the Church made a frantic attempt to minimise the impact of the allegations of “inappropriate acts” committed by Cardinal Keith O’Brien against fellow priests.

O’Brien stood down as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh the day after the Observer published accusations by three serving priests and an ex-priest about his conduct towards them during the 1980s.

Arrogant hypocrite Cardinal O'Brien who headed an elite Catholic hit squad against gay marriage in Britain

Arrogant hypocrite Cardinal O’Brien who headed an elite Catholic hit squad against gay marriage in Britain

He issued a statement in which he ambiguously apologised for “any failures” and to those he had “offended”, and announced that he would no longer travel to the Vatican to help select a successor to Ratzinger. O’Brien had been due to be the only British cardinal with a vote.

The cardinal revealed in his statement that he had been asked by the outgoing Pope to stand down immediately. Already due to retire next month, the cardinal stated:

The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today.

Senior Catholics said his resignation was intended to stop the allegations turning into a crisis. The church is already under pressure over unrelated abuse and corruption scandals in other dioceses.

Commenting on this last scandal, Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said:

If ever an institution has been in need of humbling, it is this one. If it were prepared to keep its unreasonable, inhumane teachings to its own members, we would not protest. But increasingly it tries to impose those teachings on the world outside by the ruthless pursuit of secular political power. Not content to forbid abortion and contraception to its own faithful, it tries to deny them to us all.

It instructs its bishops to agitate in the political arena, it threatens Catholic politicians who do not vote in the way they “should” and it operates covertly behind the scenes using its diplomatic power to gain access to the decision makers.

And yet despite its manipulation of the democratic processes, it does not operate democratically itself. It answers no questions, covers its secrets and hides its corruption behind impenetrable walls.

Now we have the case of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, a classic example of church hypocrisy coming back to give him a well-earned bite on the bottom.

Sanderson added:

Like many holy men before him (such as the US televangelists Jim Bakker and Ted Haggard) it appears that his virulent attacks on homosexuality may eventually be shown to be little more than a cover for his own tendencies in that direction.

He added:

But still the Church thinks it can simply dismiss its scandals in the hope — as in so many times in the past — they will soon be forgotten. That is certainly the way that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor is behaving. He had the gall to sit in front of TV camera yesterday and say that the church must be “transparent” about child abuse.

This from the man who, when he was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, covered up the activities of one of the worst clerical child abusers this country has seen. It is one of the mysteries of the age as to why the BBC investigation into his wrong-doings was dropped and why the secular authorities did not take action.


Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, in a statement issued yesterday, said:

Cardinal O’Brien condemned homosexuality as a grave sin and was a long-time opponent of gay equality. He supported homophobic discrimination in law, including the current ban on same-sex marriage.

In the light of these allegations, his stance looks hypocritical. He appears to have preached one thing in public while doing something different in private.

Several other prominent opponents of equal marriage are guilty of double standards and vulnerable to similar exposure. They include anti-gay clergy and politicians.

He pointed out that:

It is estimated that around 40% of Catholic priests in Britain are gay, which makes the church’s opposition to gay equality so two-faced and absurd. A significant proportion of all Cardinals worldwide is thought to be gay.

Recent revelations in Italy have alleged the existence of a gay mafia within the Vatican, including senior Cardinals and other Vatican officials, and their participation in gay bars, clubs, saunas, chat rooms and male prostitution services? See here and here.

The Vatican is shamelessly championing homophobia and the denial of legal equality to gay people, while hosting a hotbed of secret, guilt-ridden clerical homosexuality.

47 responses to “O’Brien’s resignation exposes a panic-struck Church riddled with hypocrisy and guilt”

  1. David Anderson says:

    MaryD is going to be soooo angry.

  2. Trevor Blake says:

    One public censure here at the end to plaster over a lifetime of condoning clergy rape. The same hat-trick of death-bed confession used for centuries. As long as you say the right magic spell before you go, you are excused from accountability by an invisible monster that lives in the sky.

  3. Broga says:

    It is clear that O’Brien has been sacrificed with no ceremony and no regard for his years of defence of the dictates coming from Rome. After his years of infamous anti gay statements and his political meddling (and Alex Salmon’s warm comments about O’Brien do him no credit) O’Brien must be wondering what has hit him. Quite simply the Vatican need a scapegoat, a deflection and a quashing of the attention O’Brien was attracting. They decided they just couldn’t afford to keep O’Brien on board and so he has been heaved over the side.

    There is a rich irony in this. Ratzinger has been quick enough in the past to excommuniate and/or sideline priests who did not agree with him. O’Brien, a hardliner, must always have thought he was part of the team. He dished out the punishment. Suddenly, he knows what it is to be frozen out, to be abandoned and to listen, presumably spitting with fury, to homilies from Murphy O’Connor and his like about the need for transparency.

    The systems, the ruthlessness, the desire to protect their privilged and comfortable way of life of the RC hierarchy exemplied by this case will repay much study. They should be writing PH.d theses on this for decades. As I’ve mentioned before, God does not seem to have much of a part to play in any of this. I think that O’Brien’s fantasies of revenge on his former friends would make a ripe horror novel.

  4. tony e says:

    If only Hitch was here to see this………

  5. JohnMWhite says:

    I wonder if part of the reason O’Brien was told to not bother coming to the conclave was so that they could all grab some paperwork and toss it in the fire. There’s going to be black smoke for quite some time, I think. Hope O’Brien kept notes, and now he has a choice to do something worthwhile with his shattered career: start telling the truth. As odious as he might be, he doesn’t deserve to go down on his own for the decades and decades of international abuse far greater than his unwanted advances.

    Also, while it’s purely anecdotal, a friend of mine has a brother who is gay and a priest who was assigned to Rome, and his estimate is that it’s about 60% of the priests there who are gay. It will be interesting to see if the next pope turns out to be a fair bit more forward thinking in that regard.

  6. AgentCormac says:

    What seems strange to me in light of the O’Brien scandal is that Ratty has done nothing about the notorious Cardinal Roger Mahony – archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 until 2011. According to church files released in a US court order last month, Mahony repeatedly sent priests who were known to be abusers out of the state to shield them from scrutiny. And although relieved of all public and administrative duties, Mahony has announced his intention to travel to the vatican to elect the next pope.

  7. Broga says:

    ‘JohnMWhite: O’Brien could cause even more sleepless (from worry, that is) nights to the Cardinals. He could say he had decided to write his autobiography as a kind of tell all confessional. You can imagine the trailers for the book: Cardinal O’Brien provides the most candid descriptions ever of life in the RC Church; my secret meetings with XYZ; the night a group of Cardinals got drunk; why I upset a young seminarian so much; what I said, what I believed and what I thought. Get a decent co writer and it would be a best seller.

  8. AgentCormac says:


    Perhaps he could ask for god’s help in that department. After all, he has already written the best-selling work of fiction of all time.

  9. Pete H says:


    It’s OK, Cardinal Mahony forgives those who are angry at the church about all the child rape and covering up, etc.

  10. barriejohn says:

    “Half of all Catholic priests are gay”. Only half?

    (See how I cleverly avoided the obvious “Which half – top or bottom”. Oops!)

  11. Chuck Longstreth says:

    I wonder how the Evangelicals feel NOW about holding hands with this bunch!

  12. Broga says:

    The O’Brien saga has just moved to another dimension. A spokesman for O’Brien, as reported on the BBC TV news, has said that “Cardinal O’Brien is very upset about what has happened to him.” He added that O’Brien did not know who had made the allegations.

    Until now O’Brien had made his statement and had not refuted the allegations. This recent statement implies that he by no means accepts his fate and the comment that he does not know who has made the allegations is intriguing. If O’Brien is “very upset” and does not know who made the allegations why was he so summarily sacked by the Pope? And why did O’Brien accept so meekly? And why do his accusers remain anonymous?

    Is there a lot more to this? Where does O’Brien’s comments about priests struggling with celibacy and being allowed to marry figure in this? Is the mystery deeper and darker than first appeared? Is O’Brien a key figure in something else and is that why he had to take the hit?

  13. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: They seem like a pack of rabid dogs ripping into themselves. I forget the name of the Cardinal who listed the crimes and disasters of the Vatican but the subtext is clearly that these crimes and disasters were the consequences of acts by Vatican insiders. These Vatican Cardinals, when not in gay bars, massage parlours and meeting their boy friends seem obssessed with position, money and promotion. Anything further from the “Blessed are the meek, poor etc” philosophy is hard to imagine.

    Ratzi increasingly seems to be coming in for stinging criticisms about the effects of his disastrous eight years. But, an important note here, he is to be called the Emeritus Pope and allowed to keep his white frock but not his red shoes. Ahhh….. Sweet.

  14. Barry Duke says:

    Slightly off-topic, but I was wondering whether a new all-singing, all-dancing reformed Vatican will continue to pursue its war on on birth control.

    What got me wondering was a piece in the National Catholic Register today which quoted Steven Mosher, President of the Virginia-based Population Research Council, as saying about population-control and the over-population “myth”:

    “Fewer souls are coming into existence to enjoy the blessings of this life and eternity in the next.”

    Is this crackpot a Catholic? Dunno, but he sure as heck sounds like one.


  15. barriejohn says:

    On Sunday morning, Murphy-the-Conman was telling us (on the Andrew Marr Show, qv) how wonderfully “transparent” the RCC was these days (his words), and how efficiently its many scandals were being dealt with. What has caused this suddden change of heart?

  16. chrsbol says:

    “Cardinal O’Brien is very upset about what has happened to him.” He added that O’Brien did not know who had made the allegations.
    As my wife pointed out, there’s possibly that many of them it’s hard to recollect?

  17. AgentCormac says:

    FFS barriejohn – you gave me a bollocking for posting that link yesterday!

  18. barriejohn says:

    Chill out, AgentCormac; I’m not claiming to have just found it. It saves people looking it up if they didn’t see it previously!

  19. barriejohn says:

    Population Research Institute:

    One measure of a non-profit’s performance is in how efficiently it raises money and how it subsequently spends contributions. PRI obtains most of its funding (>90%) from charitable contributions and experienced a decrease in revenue from 2004 to 2005, which was accompanied by a decrease in the amount of money it spent on program activities. The President of PRI, Steven W. Mosher, received in 2005 the equivalent of ~13% of the entire expenses budget for the organization and roughly equivalent to the entire administrative expenses budget for 2005.

  20. AgentCormac says:

    Oh, right – you re-posted just in case people didn’t see the original link, barriejohn. If it’s okay with you, please don’t tell me to ‘keep up’ next time I offer the same considerate service.

  21. barriejohn says:

    Not so much a loose cannon – more a walking disaster zone!

    (He has connections to Human Life International, which is a Roman Catholic “pro-life” organization.)

  22. barriejohn says:

    Different situation entirely, AC. As I said, take a chill pill!

  23. AgentCormac says:

    Different situation entirely? Really? I would just love to know how you think that when you re-post a link it is ‘entirely’ different from me doing it, barriejohn.

    Actually – you know what, fuck it. Don’t bother replying to this, barriejohn. I really don’t want to know. There can be enough petty and pointless bickering on this blog without me adding to it. You’re right. My fault. I’ll try harder next time.

    On to the next one.

  24. Broga says:

    I’m enjoying the comedy provided, as a sideline, by Murphy the elder statesman, wise adviser and conscience of the church. The following is good,

    Murphy O,Connor added “Cardinal O’Brien’s decision to step down was “up to his own conscience”. Beautiful!

    Fair play to Murphy. He managed to say this with a straight face although that must have been difficult. He must be having lots of laughs with his mates – if he has any. We also had, and this goes beyond funny to the hysterical, his comments on the “need for transparency” and, in a kind of manic moment when he decided to put the boot in, his comment that “the Vatican must put its own house in order.

    He talks as if he had no part in the debacle taking place in the RC Church. Every time O’Brien sees or hears Murphy he must end up chewing the carpet. They really ought to get them into what remains of the Coliseum and, as an apertif to the election of the Pope, set them on each other mano a mano.

  25. Marky Mark says:

    (I wonder how the Evangelicals feel NOW about holding hands with this bunch!)
    …The pedophiles will just infiltrate them now instead of the RC as the children (their prey) are in abundance there. They’re already filled with brainwashed sheeple who will accept any who professes the word of god. And their power structure is similar to the RC, those on top are rich, fat, and sassy…as the followers starve hoping for a better reward after they die.

    The Evangelicals need the same treatment as the RC…total exposure to their fraud.

    From Berriejohn’s & AgentCormac’s link;
    (the 40-year-old man was a regular churchgoer but had a twisted understanding of the Scriptures which made him believe what he was doing was justifiable)
    …I’ve said this many times, being religious does not automatically make one a good person, and this is what happens when a psychopath interprets the bible.

    (The man also used to wake up his stepdaughter in the early hours of the morning by throwing water on her face.)
    …what a fuck-head !

  26. Robster says:

    No wonder the Ratzburgher is quitting his ‘orrible organisation. The post says that 40% of RCC nonsense touters are gay!! Jees would the RCC must be a club filled with elderly self hating silly hate filled guilt ridden deluded power mad brain dead idiots. If they insist on attracting people of this ilk, they deserve what they get. Even the silly hats would not be enough to make a career with the catlik church even remotely atttractive. Then, they’ve got to tell the punters they’re eating bits of the baby jesus on sunday at the church brunch, while keeping a straight face. Can’t be a good way to spend the only life they’ve got.

  27. JohnMWhite says:

    The BBC’s website seems to have gotten rid of all mention of O’Brien in the news front page for the UK and Scotland (except one little link in a sidebar referring to the most read story from yesterday, which is a scripted thing). You’d think there would be something still there as things continue to unfold, right? I’ve always thought accusations of pro-Catholic bias at the BBC were slightly overblown. They were complete toads to the Pope during his visit but every major media entity in the UK is spineless when it comes to standing up to religion directly. With O’Brien, though, their initial story skirted around the sexuality issue completely and they are now seemingly trying to bury things while the Guardian is finding all sorts of reasons to keep churning out articles.

  28. John A says:

    ‘Ratzinger, himself due to step down on Thursday, forced the abrupt resignation of O’Brien…’
    The difference between forcing a resignation and simply firing someone I assume is all about trying to limit the fallout. By forcing a resignation you’re offering a pension or payout in exchange for a continuing silence on the real nitty-gritty, whereas a sacking for gross misconduct will probably lead to a further disgruntled O’Brien to start thinking about taking others down with him in retaliation; oh what a tangled web they weave…

  29. JamesB says:

    Of course, O’Brien is denying the allegations, seeking legal advice and it should be pointed out that he is innocent until proven guilty?

    But who needs proof when you have faith?

  30. Broga says:

    @John A: I suspect that O’Brien is going to want blood and I don’t mean the kind that the wine turns into. O’Brien is already, via his “friends”, making ripples about being very upset and not knowing who accused him.

    An RC spokesperson came up with a new take on Ratzi’s resignation this morning. This shows that the RC Church is determined to keep up to date and to make changes appropriate to the modern world.

    The BBC reporting on the scandal is a disgrace. Today I heard in detail about Ratzi’s new title, his frock and his shoes and what he will be called and how he will still be referred to as His Holyness. As for the O’Brien business they are trying to bury it.

  31. JamesB says:

    As Terry Sanderson mentions, O’Brien is merely the latest virulent homophobe to be caught bowling from the pavilion end.

    Such behaviour is hardly inexplicable:

  32. barriejohn says:

    The BBC are a disgrace. They are giving blanket coverage on BBC News to the Pope’s last whatever-it-is this morning (didn’t he have one only the other day?), against the background of a lot of speculation as to the circumstances of his resignation by a lot of people who seem, quite frankly, clueless. I saw him being driven all around St Peter’s Square in his “popemobile”, and “blessing” the adoring crowd, and at one stage a baby was passed up to be kissed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the media could now follow that child and show the world how it is living a charmed live, untouched by sorrow, suffering, bereavement and so on, though we know that that will not be so, and that, as in the case of Mother Teresa’s victims, they would just come out with some twaddle about the child being given the “strength” to cope with life’s vicissitudes (and bugger the rest of us!).

  33. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Suppose someone came to the UK, did not know anything about the religious culture, and listened to the BBC. For a start they would not realise that the C.of E. is the state religion, 26 bishops in the Lords and the Queen as its head. They wouldn’t know the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury or even if such a person existed. (Where is he, by the way? Hasn’t he got anything to say on the RC scandal?)

    What they would think is that Roman Catholicism is the official religion, that it is so important that it deserves endless coverage by the BBC and they would be given a benign view of the current scandals. This benign view includes the dress preferences and various titles to be accorded to the shamed and rapidly departing Ratzinger.

    This is not the paranoia of a militant atheist (me) but what anyone might conclude by listening to the BBC. We see here the extent to which the BBC top cats are in thrall to the Vatican. What is appalling, and should be unacceptable in a supposed democracy, is that the listeners to the BBC are daily being given reporting which is shamelessly biased to favour the RC church.

    The BBC propaganda in favour of the RC church is so great that the C. of E. represented by the Archbishops and bishops might as well not exist and seems unable to utter either a squeak of protest or honesty.

  34. Angela_K says:

    Re the BBC. Even the presenter on our local BBC Radio was droning on about Ratzi this morning. The stupid cow then spent ages interviewing some religious nutter who is carrying a giant wooden cross around the country and allowed him to spout all sorts of evangelising propaganda. Ken and MaryD have been very quiet about this latest catholic scandal.

  35. Broga says:

    @Angela_K: Had such a scandal been to the discredit of atheists we would have been hearing lots from Ken and MaryD. Perhaps they are spending time in prayer and contemplation. Or maybe they have gone to Rome to join the gullible throng.

  36. AgentCormac says:


    Apologies for my rant last night. It was disproportionate and unwarranted, and in hindsight I’m not at all sure why I got so wound up. Sorry.

  37. barriejohn says:

    Never mind, AC; I thought it was somewhat out of character!

  38. The Woggler says:

    Look who’s been appointed (temporarily) in O’Brien’s place

  39. Ken says:

    “Had such a scandal been to the discredit of atheists we would have been hearing lots from Ken …” (Broga)

    I doubt it. You could only accuse atheists if they said one thing and did another, but then there is nothing to preclude them from doing that under their own worldview. That is precisely what the RCC has been doing, and the condemnation of hypocrisy is justified, because what a section of the ‘priesthood’ has been doing is diametrically opposed to the faith they are supposed to be preaching. They are pretending to be what they are not.

    Beware of forgetting innocent until proven guilty though – just because many clearly are guilty, it doesn’t mean anyone with an axe to gring against catholicism isn’t going to make false accusations either in the hope of financial compensation or simply in the knowledge that in the current climate such mud will stick.

  40. Broga says:

    Profound, Ken, profound. Some deep thought went into those few words. However, I suggest the issue is not that the innocent may be thought guilty but that so many of the guilty are escaping being called to account. And we are talking about a church that is infested with rapist priests and the rapes are inflicted on the young and the powerless. God doesn’t seem to car very much, does he? Even Ratzinger said “God seemed to be asleep.” Or maybe Ratzinger is using that as a euphemism for his having come to the conclusion that God does not exist.

    As Ratzinger tries to fill his empty days – prayer and contemplation with no response must be so boring – we may see him on this site. He would be in better company here amongst atheists than that of the scoundrels with whom he has been surrounded all these years.

  41. DCBrighton says:

    A fifth priest has now made allegations against O’Brien.

    It was inevitable really. There will be others.

  42. AgentCormac says:


    Seems the vatican knew of this fifth allegation against O’Brien back in October last year.

    Note how RCC apologists were quick to try and praise Ratty for his ‘swift action’ when in fact the top brass has clearly been sitting on the story for months.

  43. Zarathustra says:

    One only has to wonder…. at the future ‘REVELATIONS’ about to be exposed. This a better than reality TV…

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