Last week, I wrote about Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s comments about ending the celibacy of Catholic priests. O’Brien was the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. At that time, there was no indication that the Cardinal had any vested interest in the idea. After all, he’s been Catholic clergy for most of his 74 years. But things are not always as they seem.
Accusations from four priests have driven the Cardinal to retire before the conclave to elect the new Pope. While he will retain the title of Cardinal, O’Brien will not be part of the council to choose a new Pope. Saying that he did not want media attention to be focused on him, he has chosen to recuse himself.
The Cardinal has been accused of “inappropriate acts” during his tenure in the diocese of St. Andrew which is centered in Edinburgh. Three of the priests are still with the diocese while one has retired since the alleged incidents. The irony is — as we so often see — O’Brien is an outspoken opponent of gay rights. Though he has denied the allegations, his stance will now be called into question, and rightly so.
But O’Brien is not the only cardinal selected for the papal conclave who has found himself at the center of sexual abuse allegations. Both Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady are enmeshed in scandal. Both have been pressured to cede their positions at the conclave and have refused to do so.
One would think that such men would be happy to follow the example set by their Pope. After all, Pope Benedict is stepping down from his position because he (or Church officials, depending on the story one hears) feels that he cannot do his job properly. That is a smart decision on his part, in my opinion. But Cardinals Mahoney and Brady are stubborn men, caring more for themselves than for the institution they vowed to serve. It’s a shame.
Meanwhile, Cardinal O’Brien, hardly a hero though he made some comments that stirred the powers-that-be, will probably quietly disappear. An ignominious but fitting end for him if these allegations are true. And if they aren’t, it’s still better than clinging to his vanity like the other two. Actions, not words, as I recall one Church father saying….
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…