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Journalist discusses decision to publish story on Scottish cardinal’s misdeeds

Catholic World News - March 05, 2013

Catherine Deveney, who writes for the Observer, recounted the events leading up to the newspaper’s decision to publish a story on Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s advances towards four clerics.

“The three priests, and one former priest, who have made complaints are not anonymous,” she writes. “They have given sworn, signed statements to the papal nuncio.”

“I had known one element of this story for years: the former priest's,” she added. “Let's call him Lenny. Now married, Lenny had been approached by the cardinal while a seminarian … Last month I received a call from Lenny. He was very shaken. He had had a conversation with a priest – we'll call him Peter – whom he hadn't spoken to for years. Peter told Lenny about an inappropriate relationship the cardinal had instigated with him.”

“This was confirming that his behavior towards me was part of his modus operandi,” said Lenny. “He has hurt others, probably worse, than he affected me. And that only became clear a few weeks ago.”

Deveney dismissed claims that the complaints were not specific:

Last week there were claims the cardinal did not know details of the allegations. How could he respond, the implication was, if he did not know what he was being accused of? That was simply untrue. Last Saturday, the day before the Observer printed the story, the cardinal did not respond to calls and messages left for him. The Scottish Catholic Media Office was approached. Peter Kearney, the communications director, asked for the allegations to be put in writing. They were. In that email, four separate allegations were outlined. At the end, a direct question was posed: "Is it true that the cardinal has broken his vow of celibacy?" The allegations could not have been more specific.

Kearney certainly seemed to understand at the time. His response was brief: "The cardinal is consulting his lawyers. These claims are contested and should not be published."

A day after Deveney recounted these details, Cardinal O’Brien issued a statement admitting sexual misconduct but insisted that “initially, [the allegations’] anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.”

“This is not about the exposure of one man's alleged foibles,” Deveney opined. “It is about the exposure of a church official who publicly issues a moral blueprint for others' lives that he is not prepared to live out himself. Homosexuality is not the issue; hypocrisy is. The cardinal consistently condemned homosexuality during his reign, vociferously opposing gay adoption and same-sex marriage. The church cannot face in two directions like a grotesque two-headed monster: one face for public, the other for private.”

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Cornelius - Mar. 05, 2013 10:56 AM ET USA

    I frankly don't follow the journalist's logic, though I know it is very prevalent these days - was the Cardinal privately adopting children while in a same-sex 'marriage'? Not at all. The Cardinal is homosexual, but opposes same-sex marriage and gay adoption. Where's the hypocrisy? He has a problem with his vows, to be sure, but we're all sinners here, are we not?

  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Mar. 05, 2013 8:03 AM ET USA

    I was fine with everything from Deveney up until the last paragraph. One can be gay yet oppose gay adoption and gay 'marriage.' The 'grotesque two-headed monster' comparison/label was uncalled for, imho.

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