Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Correction: Archbishop O'Brien was NOT coerced

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 11, 2003

The next day Don Corleone went to see the band leader personally. He brought with him his two best friends, Genco Abbandando, who was his Consigliori, and Luca Brasi. With no other witnesses Don Corleone persuaded Les Halley to sign a document giving up all rights to all services from Johnny Fontane upon payment of a certified check to the amount of ten thousand dollars. Don Corleone did this by putting a pistol to the forehead of the band leader and assuring him with utmost seriousness that either his signature or his brains would rest on that document in exactly one minute. Les Halley signed. [from The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, 1969]

Scottish cardinal-designate Keith Patrick O'Brien of Edinburgh publicly called for "full and open discussion" about celibacy, homosexuality, and contraception. He is naturally incensed that certain ill-conditioned persons have suggested that his unprecedented profession of allegiance to Catholic teaching on the issues of celibacy, homosexuality, and contraception was not spontaneous but was carried out under pressure from the Vatican.

Archbishop O'Brien denied that any pressure had been brought to bear on him from Rome and rounded on conservative elements of his Catholic flock. He told The Scotsman: "Having recently restated my loyalty to the Church, its teachings and the Pope, I would hope that Catholics everywhere will join with me in respecting the decisions of the Pope and demonstrate their own loyalty by not questioning them." The archbishop added that his Profession of Faith amounted to the start of a "healing process" for the Church.

Now if that isn't a beautiful specimen of archepiscopal candor, what is? Regrettably, however, the depth of cynicism to which conservative elements will sink is bottomless. Some have even argued that O'Brien shows his true colors by suggesting that accepting Church doctrine on sodomy and contraception is a matter of personal loyalty to the (present) Pope rather than submission to the teaching of Christ: all right-thinking people know the Pope is wrong, O'Brien implies, but they should follow my lead by not questioning his decisions. His decisions.

The prelate who used the occasion of a post-Synodal press conference in the Vatican to describe fellow archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi (who had crossed swords with him) as "that wee fat guy" is a man with a unique regard for the dignity of episcopal office, and he is understandably wounded by whisperers who would impugn his motives for making a doctrinal U-turn two weeks before the consistory. Should any doubt remain, the communications point-man himself has denied the use of force.

Peter Kearney, the media director of the Catholic Church, last night described Archbishop O'Brien's affirmation of belief as being similar to a politician toeing the party line. He added: "There was no gun to the head, arm up the back, threat or coercion from Rome in any form or guise."

I'm sure we all feel better now.

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