As a female Catholic, a regular at Mass for more than six decades, I am not shocked by Cardinal O’Brien’s admissions. Freely chosen, single or celibate lifestyles challenge and reward in ways unimagined by the coupled-up majority.
Condemning someone for the way he or she negotiates life’s demands is to criticise human nature itself; this makes no sense in a faith that is rooted in redemption.
More difficult to understand is the débâcle of confession-via-the-media, leading to screaming tabloid headlines and the smack of a most unfortunate, unintended, opportunism.
If one had to choose the most unlikely way of achieving reconciliation and healing, that would probably be it.
Its greatest crisis since the Reformation? This could, in fact, be Scottish Catholicism’s “moment”.
A new Pope; a shaken hierarchy unexpectedly interrogating its “authority” and of necessity re-examining its relationship with the laity (straight or gay); O’Brien’s call to accept Catholic as well as Anglican married priests in the Church of Rome; a greater role for women in this all-male world – who knows where revelation of a Cardinal’s human nature might lead?
The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways and Scottish Catholics might have a very long wait indeed for another “burning bush” if we pass up the opportunities offered by this one.
Ian O Bayne opposes my depiction of the Cardinal O’Brien affair as “the gravest internal scandal to hit the Catholic Church since the Reformation” (Letters, 6 March).
He then proceeds to provide “evidence” to try and refute the claim by citing the example of the notorious Cardinal David Beaton, but then admits he was one of Cardinal O’Brien’s “pre-Reformation predecessors”!
Let’s have some evidence from the post-Reformation period referred to in my statement, please, if it is to be challenged in any convincing fashion.
Bayne also describes Keith O’Brien’s admissions as the “odd peccadillo or two” and “relatively trivial” in their nature. His cavalier view, however, is not shared by the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdioceses of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, who has now stated in public that “there is little doubt that the credibility and moral authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland has been dealt a serious blow”, by recent events.
If the Church is to move on from this sad affair it must first avoid the trap of self-delusion and denial explicit in the opinion of your correspondent.
(Prof) Tom Devine
University of Edinburgh
Paul Brownsey’s letter (6 March) made me angry. He argues that Cardinal O’Brien’s apology has “nothing to do with those who are neither people towards whom he has misbehaved nor members of his flock”.
I disagree. I believe the cardinal should feel apologetic towards all gay people (remember, it is not a choice), whether they are Catholic or not.
His statements in the past have made them feel dirty, hated and excluded, and that does not feel Christian to me.