Scottish Catholic Archbishop admits 'hypocrisy' charges over sexuality

By staff writers
4 Mar 2013

The Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, has admitted that his Church stands accused of hypocrisy over the Cardinal O'Brien affair.

The Cardinal, who was today announced to have "left the country", issued a statement through the Scottish Catholic Media Office yesterday admitting sexual misconduct in general terms, following specific allegations against him by priests and ex-priests.

In a homily at a special Lent service at Glasgow Cathedral this evening, the Archbishop says that the Catholic Church's moral standing and credibility has been damaged by the charges and admission. But he urges the Church not to "throw in the towel", but to respond with "prayer, patience and perseverance".

He says: "This is a sad moment for the Church in our country. The events around Cardinal O’Brien, his resignation, his statement of yesterday, have left us all very sad for everyone involved and for the Church. I have been asked to administer the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh until a new Archbishop is appointed, and I will do my very best to help in this difficult time.

"Many reproaches have been aimed at the Church and at individuals over this matter. The most stinging charge which has been levelled against us in this matter is hypocrisy, and for obvious reasons. I think there is little doubt that the credibility and moral authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland has been dealt a serious blow, and we will need to come to terms with that," he declared.

"Archbishop Tartaglia's statement that the Catholic church has lost credibility is a start, but more contrition and courage is needed from the establishment," one of many respondents said on Twitter.

The Archbishop is also a vociferous opponent of equal marriage and has previously made comments described as "cruel" and 'homophobic".

In particular, back in July 2012, Archbishop Tartaglia linked the death of gay Labour MP David Cairns to his homosexuality.

He subsequently apologised to Dermot Kehoe, Mr Cairns’ partner of 15 years, who said the remarks had added consideably to the “grief and pain” both for he Mr Cairns’ family experienced through the bereavement.

The Archbishop is being asked to meet and dialogue with members of the LGBT community in the wake of a tumultuous fortnight for the Scottish Catholic Church, Pink News reported this evening (4 March 2013).

Meanwhile, the journalist who went public with the allegations against Cardinal O'Brien in The Observer newspaper, Catherine Deveney , has now told the BBC that she thinks it unlikely that Cardinal O'Brien has been alone in his abuse of power within the Catholic Church in Scotland, though she wishes to be careful in sticking to strictly verifiable claims in such matters.

Daniel Donaldson, from the Equality Network in Scotland, has written an 'open letter' to the Archbishop of Glasgow, calling for a change of attitude by the Church towards LGBT people.

Mr Donaldson left the Catholic Church himself, because he could not endure the anti-gay teaching and attitudes he was encountering.

Others say that Cardinal O'Brien needs to make direct reparation for his actions, both in abusing his power with priests, and in his "vicious" attacks on LGBT people.

"His confession falls well short of what we expect from a spiritual leader. I urge him to show true remorse for his homophobia and hypocrisy by saying sorry to the gay community for the hatred and harm he has caused - and by publicly repenting his homophobia,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“He should make amends by dropping his opposition to marriage equality and by beginning a new affirmative ministry to gay Catholics."

“Cardinal O’Brien’s admission of sexual contact with men torpedoes the credibility of the church's bigoted stance against homosexuality. It also undermines the campaign against same-sex marriage.

“It will be very difficult to take the opponents of marriage equality seriously now that their senior spokesperson has admitted that he did what he preached against.

"The Cardinal is a troubled man. I pity him. I hope he will receive good counselling to help him deal with his decades of deception, and to come to terms with his obvious self-loathing and deeply repressed homosexual desires.

"He is not the only one. Other leading voices against marriage equality are also homophobic hypocrites... An estimated 40 per cent of Catholic priests are gay. Studies documented by Father Donald Cozzens in the US suggest that 23 to 58 per cent of the clergy have a homosexual orientation, with the figure being closer to 60 per cent among younger priests.

"Recent revelations in Italy have alleged the existence of gay Cardinals and other Vatican officials, and their involvement in gay bars, clubs, saunas, online chat rooms and male prostitution services. Given their denunciation of homosexuality, how can they live with their conscience?

"The Catholic church is shamelessly championing homophobia and the denial of legal equality to gay people, while hosting widespread secret, guilt-ridden clerical homosexuality," concluded Mr Tatchell.

There are reports that the Vatican is now investigating the circumstances of the allegations against Cardinal O'Brien. Victims of abuse within the Church say that an open process of investigation is needed. It is unlikely that further details will become clear before a new Pope comes into office.

[Ekk/3]

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