The Cardinal Whose Lovers Finally Had Enough

Portrait of newly appointed cardinal Kei

Here’s more detail of a fascinating story on the breakdown of the clerical gay closet. The men who exposed Scotland’s highest Roman Catholic figure had been aware of his orientation for years. One was very close:

Cardinal Keith O’Brien had a long-standing physical relationship with one of the men whose complaints about his behaviour sparked his downfall as leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland. The man left the priesthood in the middle of the last decade but rejoined and is living on the continent in a post the cardinal helped him secure. The complainant is known to have been in regular telephone contact with Cardinal O’Brien until recently and was a frequent visitor to St Benets, his official residence in Edinburgh’s Morningside.

So a cardinal in a same-sex relationship who publicly declared the idea of marriage equality as “madness” finally saw his elaborate house of cards collapse under the weight of massive hypocrisy:

Another source said: “These guys, we now know, were part of an inner circle. In the 30 years since these allegations took place there’s been ample time to complain. The Cardinal has had a huge profile for the past decade. But the door wasn’t just shut on them, it was bolted in the past 18 months.

“I believe they wanted to silence O’Brien – as he’s about to do another conclave, and make a huge deal of it. As he’s retiring, a decision’s been taken to go public and take him down.” Another said: “If you’re asking me to describe what this is about in one word, it’s revenge. I’ve no doubt the allegations did take place in the 1980s but they’ve come out to – destroy O’Brien.”

It’s a crack in the Catholic clerical closet – but look how long the news took to break and how egregious the hypocrisy had to be in order for the truth to come out. I’m against outing people in public life. But there are cases of such extreme hypocrisy, where such a vast gulf between private beliefs and public rhetoric almost requires people of conscience to speak out.