The Vatican’s problem with Cardinal Keith O’Brien and gay priests
THE Vatican has yet to open as a gay nightspot in Old Compton Street. The Catholic Church is not yet undone by rumours of homosexuality in the Pope’s palace. The Vatican’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, maintains the line that such stories of gay sex amongst the prelates is salacious gossip and has nothing to do with Benedict XVI’s decision to resign:
We are indebted to Vatican Radio’s English translation, which makes the Father appear more than a little verbose:
There is no lack, in fact, of those who seek to profit from the moment of surprise and disorientation of the spiritually naive to sow confusion and to discredit the Church and its governance, making recourse to old tools, such as gossip, misinformation and sometimes slander, or exercising unacceptable pressures to condition the exercise of the voting duty on the part of one or another member of the College of Cardinals, who they consider to be objectionable for one reason or another.
Ashe’s talking, one former priest and three serving priests at the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh claim Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic clergyman, behaved inappropriately towards them three decades ago. The four told all to Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain a week before the Pope resigned. O’Brien is schedule to retire in March this year.
One of the four is quoted:
“It tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs. 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.”
Should we expect a rush of sex scandals?
Says one priest, who alleges O’Brien made unwelcome advances to him:
“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.”
Others claim that invitations to”night prayers” were a cover for other kinds of kneeling.
Says the aforesaid ex-priest:
“You have to understand, the relationship between a bishop and a priest. At your ordination, you take a vow to be obedient to him. He’s more than your boss, more than the CEO of your company. He has immense power over you. He can move you, freeze you out, bring you into the fold … he controls every aspect of your life. You can’t just kick him in the balls.”
But why wait until now to speak out? One explanation is that they want the conclave electing the new pope to be “clean”. The Book of Ecclesiastes might help:
To everything there is a season… a time to keep silence and a time to speak.
Note: Is the solution to have married priests? Damien Thompson notes:
Recently, I was at a dinner party attended by a distinguished monsignor. The elegant red-haired lady sitting next to me introduced herself. “I’m Gill,” she said. “The monsignor’s wife.”Gill Newton, a schoolteacher, is married to Mgr Keith Newton, who holds the title of protonotary apostolic – the highest rank of monsignor in the Roman Catholic Church. As head of the Ordinariate, the structure set up by Pope Benedict for ex-Anglicans, he is almost a bishop: he wears a mitre and conducts confirmations. He and Gill have three grown-up children.
The Catholic Church in England has been ordaining married ex-Anglican clergy in significant numbers since 1992, when the C of E voted for women priests. It’s no longer much of a novelty for a parish to have a married man in charge, though he can’t technically hold the title of parish priest. There are well over 100 Catholic priests’ wives in England – and, on the whole, folk in the pews are happy.