Almost a year ago I blogged on Cardinal O' Brien and his stance on LGBT issues (see "A Right Rammy" 5th March 2012). I noted the offensive nature of his language and wondered why someone I knew to have previously been fairly sympathetic to the LGBT community had suddenly turned so nasty. I even preached against his position a few months ago from an Edinburgh pulpit (go to http://www.stmichaelandallsaints.org/Sermons/archive.php - see the sermon for Trinity 13 if you are interested). Events of the last few days have suggested obvious reasons of closeted self hatred to plenty of people. As Kenny Dalgleish so famously commented "Maybes aye, maybes no". However, I have been quite uncomfortable reading some reactions from a variety of Facebook friends and others. "Intemperate" is being polite. "Splenetic triumphalism" is a more accurate description. At one level I fully understand this. As I said at the time, the Cardinal was singularly intemperate in his language and "as ye sow so shall you reap" and all that.But even allowing for that I am not too keen on the responses I have seen. If nothing else, you sink to his level of vitriol and lower yourself to his stunted stature. Imitating an oppressor is not liberation, it is a continuation of oppression in a mirror form. By insulting as you have been insulted, you proclaim not the reality of your freedom from oppression but your continuing enthralment to a cycle of spleen and anger that diminishes your God given and God loved humanity. Not taking resentments about others attitudes to you and using them to fuel your internalised self-loathing in a destructive way is a key part of any 12 step Recovery programme and really has to be applied to every part of your life, including your online conversations and reactions.
I also have a level of human sympathy for the man. Having struggled with celibacy, loneliness and drink myself for over a decade before getting sober, 12 stepping and meeting Rachel, I can in all honesty and with deep feeling say "There but for the grace of God go I". I dislike his attitudes deeply, I do not excuse any wrong that may be proved to have been done (although at the moment they are allegations under investigation, not proven facts - which some are prone to forget whilst crowing) and would hope that if the allegations are substantiated appropriate disciplinary sanctions would be applied by the RC Church's authorities without regard either to the rank involved or to the howls of the mob. At the moment, as far as I am aware, only 5 people in the World know the full truth about what really happened - the 4 complainants and the Cardinal. All 5 need our prayers and I will be praying for all involved in this grim situation - and also for the many ordinary Scottish Catholics who will be hurt and distressed by the events of the past few days. May they all know the presence of the God who is greater than any Church and whose love breached the gates of death to bring freedom and life to all who knew fear and pain in any form.