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.
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.
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.
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.