Good. More please.

Vatican announcement: Disgraced Cardinal O’Brien leaving Scotland for “penance and prayer”…

Memo for those of you saying, “Oh yeah?  Why doesn’t the Vatican *jail* him?”

See. there’s this thing called “civil law”. We laity do the jailing thing. And we chose not to. That’s not Rome’s job, particularly with foreigners.  And the Church’s job is to emphasize the “mercy for sinners” thing.  Those who who would like the Church to be transformed into the Instrument of God’s Avenging Rage on Sinful Man should really reconsider what they hope to have happen to them the next time they enter a confessional.  This is one of the reasons I am mortally grateful that the Church, for all her  faults, is not run by polling combox Catholics on who needs to be kicked out, punished, and put to death this week.

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  • kenofken

    I don’t know if it’s a jailing matter. His allegations involve sexual harassment of adult men, his subordinates, it appears. In any secular workplace, it would be a matter for massive civil judgments, and I hope his victims somehow extract that, though I have no idea if they can under Scottish law. It’s quite true the Vatican has no mandate to jail (anymore), but they could exercise some discipline harsher than a paid sabbatical, one would think. There is nothing in this case that speaks of wise justice tempered by mercy. It’s just the same old story of power protecting its own.

    • ariofrio

      I would love to hear Mark Shea’s take on this comment. I agree that it’s hard to see this case as “wise justice tempered by mercy.”

    • Andy, Bad Person

      We have no time where he is spending his time in prayer and penance (nice spin with the “paid sabbatical,” by the way), and his future after that time is unknown, according to the article. We have no knowledge of how this will be handled in the future. Since the Church has no authority to jail him, sending him to do penance seems like about the only thing they can do.

  • Doug Sirman

    I’m the last to minimize actual abuse of children. However, this really seems like sexual harassment, and non-threatening harassment at that. I think Cary Grant said it best: “…and I still claim I was tight the night I proposed, if you’d have been a gentleman, you’d have forgotten the whole thing!”

  • Chesire11

    First of all, Cardinal O’Brien doesn’t appear to have committed any crime, so it’s tough to understand why he should be imprisoned. He lost his position as Archbishop of Edinburgh, and has been ordered into seclusion for a period of penance and prayer. Sound like the sort of steps the Church should take in this case.

  • The canonical equivalent of jail is assignment to a cloister under a vow of silence. It is in fact a *better* option than most of what I’ve seen done with these people.

  • dcummingsmclean2

    So far nobody has heard or seen an account of exactly what Cardinal O’Brien said or did to offend his accusers, all of whom were adult men and one of whom may have been in an affectionate relationship with Cardinal O’Brien which the accuser now regrets. One of the complaints apparently came from a Scottish priest who was approached by the Cardinal when the Cardinal was drunk–once.

    Cardinal O’Brien is very well-loved in Scotland, and many people remain fond of him despite the revelation of his lapses from chastity. I have yet to speak to any Catholic in Edinburgh who thinks he was malicious; the general opinion seems to be that he was occasionally weak and occasionally dumb and must have been, on some level, deeply lonely.

    There is no reason to make a monster out of Cardinal O’Brien because of guys like Cardinal Mahoney. Cardinal O’Brien never covered up for abusers of children, and was never an abuser of children himself.