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protesting too much

protesting too much

Lauryn Oates, an admirable woman in every way, has written an incisive little essay here, wishing the backward-facing hierarchs of the Catholic Church a hearty good riddance. Of course it’s all wishful thinking, of the kind all positive-thinking humanists indulge in, but you have to wonder why it is so many apparently educated, humane, intelligent people still cling to this awful institution. Is it force of habit? Is it fear of offending family and friends? Is it faith, whatever that may mean? Or is it, dare I say, profound intellectual analysis and reflection?

And let’s face it, the evidence of this institution’s awfulness is everywhere. Oates wrote her damning little piece before the latest scandal involving Keith O’Brien, the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain no less, who has made admissions regarding sexual molestation accusations by a number of fellow priests. After all the focus, the relentless focus, on exploitative priests and cover-ups, we still find this sort of thing going on at the very top. However, O’Brien’s admission (it was feeble and vague – ‘I haven’t lived up to the standards expected of me’, and it’s unlikely anything further will be dragged out of him) is particularly devastating – and some illustrious figures would say, inevitable – because he was so rabidly homophobic in his pronouncements. So, now that his hypocrisy is revealed, the LGBT community is having a field day, and why not? (They recently named him their Bigot of the Year). I’ve just been acquainting myself with the many contemptible remarks this individual has made against homosexuality, and some interesting reflections on him, now that he stands exposed, so to speak. Some to the effect that he’s obviously a deeply troubled person who might be treated with compassion. The thing is, though, we can always find ways to more deeply understand, and even sympathise with, the behaviour of people who have done immense damage to others, but we always have to weigh the suffering they cause against the suffering they experience. And it seems to me obvious that O’Brian’s depredations, combined with his regular and lashing condemnations of the freely chosen sexual activities of others, from a position of exalted religious status, represents something pretty fundamentally disgusting and only partially mitigated by his own inner turmoil. Another mitigating factor, of course, is the gay orientation of many senior Catholic clergy, encouraged and cemented in their youth in seminaries the world over.

O’Brian has now been ‘retired’, and will take no further part in the Catholic Church, but he still retains his title of Cardinal, and he was planning to retire later this month anyway. There are those, though, who’ll be fighting to visit a more fitting punishment on the man, and I wish them well. The Church itself is to conduct an investigation into his activities, but I can’t take that seriously. The secular route is best, but it’s unclear as yet whether his behaviour has contravened the law. It may well be that he’ll end up being let off, if not exonerated, by the very liberal regime that he affects to despise.

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Written by stewart henderson

March 6, 2013 at 11:13 am

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