A former priest behind a bank of allegations that led to the resignation of the UK’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has launched a blistering attack on the Roman Catholic church’s reaction to the scandal while saying its leaders would “crush” him if they could.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, last week TheObserver revealed that the former priest — along with three active priests — had reported O’Brien’s alleged history of “inappropriate behavior” to the Vatican.
Ironically, the story broke a day after the Vatican’s spokesman called on the Italian media to stop miring ex-Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation in conspiracy theories, and a day before widespread media coverage on the O’Brien furor.
Less than 36 hours later, 74-year-old O’Brien, the UK’s most senior cleric and head of the Scottish Roman Catholic church resigned. It was later revealed that Cardinal O’Brien would not be voting in the upcoming conclave, BBC News reports.
Victory, one would think for the accusers? Not so.
According to The Guardian, the former priest, who says O’Brien subjected him to unwanted attention when he was a 20-year-old seminarian, is now speaking out about why he went public and to blast the Scottish Roman church leaders.
The unnamed former priest says he is “disappointed” by the “lack of integrity” in the Catholic church over the affair, telling The Observer:
“There have been two sensations for me this week. One is feeling the hot breath of the media on the back of my neck and the other is sensing the cold disapproval of the church hierarchy for daring to break ranks. I feel like if they could crush me, they would.”
Part of reason for his ire stems from a claim made by Peter Kearney, director of communications for the Scottish R.C church, that O’Brien’s resignation was not linked to the Observer story and that the church was unaware of the details of the allegations.
Following media requests for comment, Kearney referred reporters to Antonio Mennini, the Papal Nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, while denying that he knew anything about a fifth priest with more allegations against O’Brien, said Gay Star News.
Meanwhile, the former priest is critical of the lack of emotional support he has been given by the church.
“The vacuum the church has created has allowed whimsy and speculation to distort the truth. And the only support I have been offered is a cursory email with a couple of telephone numbers of counselors hundreds of miles away from me,” he says. “Anyway, I don’t need counseling about Keith O’Brien’s unwanted behavior to me as a young man. But I may need counseling about the trauma of speaking truth to power.”
He added “I have felt very alone and there is a tendency to become reclusive when people are trying to hunt you down.” He went on to say he felt angered by widespread demands that the identity of the four complainants be made public: “To those who want to know my name I would say, what does that change? And what do you think I have done wrong?”
The former cleric says that when the four came forward, they were warned by authorities within the church that if their complaints became public knowledge it would cause “immense further damage to the church.”
“For me, this is about integrity, ” he says. “I thought it was best to let the men and women who put their hard-earned cash in the plate every Sunday know what has been happening. If you pay into something you have a right, but also a duty, to know what you are paying for.”
He is keen to stress that the men’s complaints were not borne of malice:
“This isn’t about trying to own the moral high ground. I feel compassion for O’Brien, more compassion than the church is showing me, but the truth has to be available – even when that truth is hard to swallow.”
The former priest also insists the accusations were not homophobic. “This is not about a gay culture or a straight culture. It’s about an open culture. I would be happy to see an openly gay bishop, cardinal, or pope. But the church acts as if sexual identity has to be kept secret.”
Capping as it does a week that saw the departure of an ageing, unfit Pope and news that the conclave to decide the next one has been brought forward, it remains to be seen what the next era of Catholicism will bring.