Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not about Knitting

I don’t think a public event has left me as sad as Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation since the day they shot Kennedy.

I feel that the four priests who have destroyed him should now come forward and tell us their names and give us some hint as to what the “inappropriate behaviour” consisted of. It could be anything from an unwanted hug to buggery. When the Jimmy Saville story began to break, we very soon had real women with real names telling us what Saville had done to them. And it was not at all nice. Cardinal O’Brien deserves no less.

There is no hint as to their identities that Google can find for me. I don’t Tweet – there may be clues there.

We bought the Observer on Sunday. The original story is not very long and not very specific. All the rest, around the world, derives from that article. There is no other information, unless you happen to be the Papal Nuncio. But even from that little it can be deduced that the four complainers were grown men when the “inappropriate behaviour” may have happened. There is no question of child abuse. No crime was committed, unless they’re saying O’Brien actually raped them.

Sarah JS provided the link to the Washington Post article in yesterday’s final comment – it’s so long that I’m not going to risk copying and pasting. Have a look, please. The story is the Observer rehashed. Read some of the comments. There are hundreds.

I was absolutely horrified. Writer after writer assumes that Keith O’Brien is a paedophile, a rapist, an active homosexual who has been “caught with his pants down”. (What hope for the jury system if even people who read the Washington Post can’t think?) And he will have to spend the rest of his life meeting people every day who believe such things of him.

Only last week, he gave a television interview in which he was happily looking forward to ending his days as the parish priest in Dunbar. (He turns 75 next month, and had already tendered his resignation from the archbishopric of Edinburgh to the Pope.) My husband thinks even that may be impossible now.

One thing is for sure – those four priests hate Cardinal O’Brien. They have hated him for a long time. They’ve got their revenge, all right. Much may it profit them.

New topic

My husband’s editor is coming to see us today – I think is making the journey from London specifically for that purpose. He’s new to the job. We haven’t met him. We have invited him to join us on the cloud in Dropbox; he took up the invitation with commendable alacrity.

So I must go flutter about and think about lunch.


  1. They made a great fuss of the story on our SBS (international) news service. Then they went on to add that some other Cardinals should also disqualify themselves.
    I think the media believes it has found a way to influence the Cardinals in their choice.

  2. Anonymous9:50 AM

    The first thing I thought of when the news of the Cardinal's resignation was you and your husband. What a terrible thing for the congregations of Edinburgh!

    We belong to a small little parish (Episcopal), but our Bishop's Canon to the Ordinary comes to worship with us when he is not celebrating himself. He feels like family, and I know we would be heartbroken if something should happen to him. I should mention that Canon Stevenson has been in Zanzibar for a week serving an Episcopal Relief mission; his wife has asked for prayers for his safety.

  3. Anonymous9:50 AM

    This smacks more of in fighting for the new pope than a real event. Haven't the new world cardinals been reminded before that they wear the hat but it doesn't come with political clout. Rome can fight dirty.

    I wonder if he was part of a group that had thought they had a candidate or if his retirement will be a bit more plush so others are warned?

    Knitting- socks as usual, one of Cookie A's early patterns.

  4. Annette11:00 AM

    I am not (that is, no longer) a catholic but I agree absolutely with your post. Cardinal Keith has made some unwise statements about homosexuality, so if the accusations turn out to be legally serious he could certainly be accused of hypocrisy. However his recent comment about allowing priests to marry was very heartening. It must indeed be a very lonely life and the insistency on celibacy is cruel and unnecessary. I had a fairly nasty religious upbringing in Catholic Northern Ireland but my granddaughter, attending as a non-catholic, Edinburgh RC primary and secondary schools, has had a great education, with no more religious indoctrination that my own children had at their local non-sectarian Edinburgh state primaries.

    Things have obviously changed a lot for catholics since my childhood, but the way that the catholic hierarchy is behaving at the moment you would never know it. The accusations are so far only speculative and the behaviour may have been merely 'inappropriate". Was this not dealt with at the time? How can someone be condemned for incidents that happened 30 years ago? Cardinal Keith's life has now been effectively ruined in a particularly cruel way. Unless there is a lot more to this than we know of, the Catholic Church has really let itself down badly here.

    (By the way, I used to live across the street from you..........)

  5. Anonymous12:50 PM

    I, too, thought of you when this latest story broke. I could not agree more with your sentiments, and of course I am sorry for you (since you knew him, however slightly) as well as for him. I am also very puzzled by his decision not to defend his name; I am old-fashioned enough to believe that the one true thing we possess in this world is our name, our reputation, and that is worth maintaining in the face of almost insurmountable odds.
    I hope you may find some solace with other members of your (former) congregation. I have similar wishes, but less hope, for O’Brien. (On a technicality, would he now be Father? Does he remain His Eminence? I am not sure what the rules of address are in such a circumstance; certainly U.S. politics has shifted to give one the honorific of highest office held even after the end of term, but has the Church?)
    I hope lunch is a smashing success; you could use that now I'm sure.

  6. I don't know the cardinal, nor do I know the priests, but I wouldn't claim that no crime has happened - because the public doesn't know the full story. and molesting somebody, who is well below in hierarchy and might not be able to fight back properly (esp. given the way the church usually deals with those matters) - might not be considered as criminal as rape, but should not be pushed away either. and about not naming those people - isn't it mainly the church itself trying to cover and hush up instead of working it out openly? and I do happen to agree with his views on celibacy - maybe many of the problems could be avoided in the future if those rules were abandoned. I have nothing against O'Brien, but I think people should stop speculating if they don't know the real background. of course, the press doesn't help with their constant rumour-mongering and hype-ing up everything:(

    1. Anonymous1:53 PM

      I agree so much with you that we don't know if a crime has been committed or not. We also don't know what pain he might have inflicted on his accusers, whether it was a crime or not.

      More investigation is certainly warranted. But (in the US) we usually protect the names of victims of sexual crimes, and perhaps that should also be the case here. Many people feel shame and guilt when they are victims of these incidents, and subjecting them to public scrutiny just adds to their burden.

      Beverly in NJ

  7. I am not and never have been a Catholic but I HATE the way all Catholic clergymen have been 'tarred with the same brush.' There are evil people in all groups but there is a growing tendency to think that all people of one group have to be the same. One abuses somebody so they are all abusers.
    It has become difficult for men to work with young children because a tiny minority have abused children but, to my mind, that's like saying no woman should have children because a few infants are, tragically, neglected by their mothers. In the same way, the media are just waiting for another unsavory story about priests and will jump at the chance of selling 'news' regardless of the damage that it may do to the person and without any regard for the fact that it may be based on the jealousy of clergy who have not reached the same career level. Why are the men making the allegations being protected? Surely, women and boys who were abused by Saville were more vulnerable if they came forward than a priest would be? But some of Sville's victims were named.
    I went on a cross country run organised for my school by Saville when I was a teenager. We girls ran in groups because we found Saville creepy. I can't believe that nobody in authority was aware of his aura in the 45 years since then. We were 13 and knew he was not to be trusted. So why was he protected until after his death whilst the cardinal has been offered up as a sacrifice to the media without real evidence. This is horrible. If he's guilty of something then give us proof. If he's innocent, give him the chance to prove he is the victim. As you say, what is viewed as inappropriate behaviour varies and he may only have hugged people in a way that was totally acceptable until the abuse police began to see every form of physical contact from men to be abusive.
    My neighbour was told by his little girl's head teacher that he must not hug his child at the school gate - she has no mum, so the other kids get a hug from their mothers but Rosie may not be hugged. What a weird world.