Sunday, 5 April 2009

Atheists "not fully human", says Cardinal

I do not make a habit of launching personal attacks on individuals, but in this case I think it is justified.

The possibility has been mooted that a peerage may be offered to the retiring Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. There are many reasons – apart from arcane considerations of constitutional propriety and canon law – why this would be entirely inappropriate, and a petition against it which already bears over 1100 signatures has been launched on the No. 10 website.

For those not familiar with the background, the following links may be enlightening:

First, a BBC profile of the Cardinal.

Second, an account of the paedophile scandals involving a Catholic priest who, his victims claim, was protected by the Cardinal (then Bishop of Arundel and Brighton). One of them, who was eight at the time the abuse began, said that the Cardinal’s actions – or inactions – had condemned him to four years of abuse: “I feel livid towards him. The sweeping under the carpet as it were was his doing. It put me in the danger that I was in for that whole length of time.”

Third, the Cardinal’s lame defence of his conduct.

It seems to me bizarre that he feebly excuses himself by pleading the general ignorance at that time of the ‘compulsive nature of child abuse’. As a therapist, I do not believe in the existence of irresistible compulsions of any sort; and for the dignitary of a Church which makes a point of preaching the doctrine of Free Will to subscribe to any such notion is surely ludicrous.

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor was absolved of any intentional wrongdoing in this matter, but at the very least he was guilty of gross negligence and should, one would have thought, have had the grace to resign even if the Pope did not sack him.

But not a bit of it: Murphy O’Connor blossomed into the most bigoted and reactionary holder of his office in my living memory. Only last month, he was reported as saying on BBC Radio 4 that it was necessary to stand up to unbelievers, as since they don’t recognise that we are all made by God they have an impoverished understanding of what it is to be human.

Well, thanks for telling me. If I am not fully human, Cardinal M O’C, what are you? Utterly unfit to be given a platform in the House of Lords to spout this sort of obnoxious rubbish for a start.

I hope that everyone who agrees with me will take a few moments to sign the No. 10 petition.


Bodwyn Wook said...

He IS an old griffin for a fact! Wouldn't letting him into the Lords be tantamount to banging him up in a museum as a kind of exhibit, or something?

I personally, Aunty, find in my own life that compulsion and free will are complementary processes on a sort of psychological continuum:

One is just swept along for years, especially in youth, and afterward has plenty at leisure to regret. Hence, the saying "felix culpa." Speaking for myself, freedom of choice came obnly later and with the possibility of (relatively calm) decision, to try to make amends in some cases at least to those I have harmed.

I think that this is about it, for that, mind you, I am not trying to exculpate your Red Bird over there -- there is as well as lust notably, and greed and anger, all of the dreadful defensive compulsions of (ta, da!) the public role and persona. For your Cardinal morality is plainly a matter "for other people," hence the lunatic preaching and tub thumping.

anticant said...

Although the rhetoric changes the Catholic Church's policy in these cases remains consistent - priests first, victims nowhere.

In the 1960s I visited the then Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster on behalf of an unfortunate pupil at a Catholic school who had been involved by one of his reverend teachers in a sex ring. When the scandal threatened to break, the priest was hastily spirited out of the country and this boy, being the eldest of the group, was singled out as the "ringleader" and sent to prison. At the behest of his mother - hitherto a devout Catholic - I went to the Cardinal to ask him to intervene. He was all pious horror, and did assist in getting the boy's sentence reduced on appeal, but the Church made no effort to bring back the real culprit - the priest - to face justice.

zola a social thing said...

Can it be true, to say, that the best atheists are those with a deep understanding of the theological?

anticant said...

I don't know about "best", but many atheists I know have a much greater knowledge of sacred books and creeds than most of the faithful do. They are often stronger on loving and charitable behaviour, too.

A case of "know your enemy", I suppose.

zola a social thing said...

Can it be then that the worst and most faithful atheists are somehow quite religious?

anticant said...

As dear old Joad used to say, 'it depends on what you mean by religious'.

Believers in a supernatural deity most certainly don't have a monopoly on virtue, even if they kid themselves that they do.

Jose said...

Shouldn't his belief in God, his religion, the Roman Church and all that lot be enough for a cardinal to live on this material Earth?

Don't they, cardinals and their acolytes preach that we (among we I include the Queen of England) live here thanks to their beliefs?

Don't they say that God is almighty and that the only believable faith is the Catholic one?

The Church of England is not one of their best loved colleagues in the Christian Faith, so I would think that this cardinal will not admit that the CofE's Head will overstep his Pope in earthly matters, such as a peerage in Britain.

If he is eventually knighted by the Queen, he will be defecating on his very principles.

On reflection perhaps that would be a good idea.

zola a social thing said...

Oh Yes Jose.
A very good idea indeed.
And in keeping with the human tradition.

anticant said...

I see that Cardinal Murphy O'Connor says he is "in two minds" about accepting a peerage:

It's good to know that he does occasionally have second thoughts about some things.

Jose said...

Not surprising to me. They are always "in two minds". I never thought the Cardinal was one to have a strong point of opinion.