I am disturbed the Vatican seems to have decreed that Cardinal O’Brien should live the rest of his life outwith Scotland (your report, 6 May). Surely he should be permitted to spend his retirement in this country in peace. In 2006, he was guest speaker at an ecumenical summer evening service in the Old High Church of Scotland, Inverness. Most who heard him then must have been shocked and saddened by his sudden resignation after admitting he had “behaved inappropriately” towards young priests more than 30 years ago.
I was sad to learn of his fall from grace, which brought into sharp focus the frailty of even the most devout human beings, as I had been greatly inspired by his talk, and impressed by his presence. I retain great admiration for him as a manifestly caring person.
After the service I asked if he would mind saying a prayer for my ailing, very Presbyterian mother, then nearly 95, in a care home. Of course, he replied, and asked about circumstance and address. The next day, he e-mailed me to say he was praying for her, and had sent her a card with his blessings. The day after that I visited my mother, whom I found in a much more contented mood than I had seen her in for some time.
“I felt yesterday a great sense of peace, and that somebody was praying for me,” she told me, before I had even mentioned my request to the Cardinal. Some might scoff at this as being fanciful, and though I am often as sceptical about such claims, I’m sure Cardinal O’Brien’s prayers were of real comfort to a frail old woman, even if she hadn’t been aware of who had been praying for her.
Just as I’m sure the Cardinal, for all his past alleged errors, is at heart a very decent, devout man, who himself deserves our prayers and understanding in his time of trouble. I will not forget his great kindness.
Moray Park Avenue