When I first heard Benedict XVI abruptly resigned, I immediately said there must have been a scandal brewing. Well, it seems there was, according to a report from Italian newspaper Repubblica, pointing to blackmailing of gay prelates by male prostitutes. The Vatican denied the report, but we all know how they roll. Well, within days, Scotland’s highest ranking Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien abruptly resigned after a scandal broke about his inappropriate advances he made towards three priests and a former priest.
Well, it turns out, those allegations against Keith O’Brien were true. He admitted that his sexual conduct has at times “fallen beneath the standards expected of me.” In a statement, O’Brien apologized and asked for forgiveness from those he had offended. He also apologized to the Catholic Church and the people of Scotland. This points to the fact that sexual misconduct goes way up the chain, to the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic Church.
The statement issued through the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland read: “In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.”However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.
“To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.
“I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.” Source
How many more Keith O’Briens exist in the Roman Catholic Church and in churches in other denominations? To take this a step further, what actually is Keith O’Brien referring to when he references inappropriate behavior? Did he engage in similar behavior with kids? Inappropriate sexual conduct has been going on for decades and it is time for this to come to an end. As far back as I can remember, there have been rumblings about Catholic priests engaging in “bad behavior.” I recall one incident in which a priest named Father Pegg, who was connected to Mount Alvernia High School, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, impregnating a teenager. He died in a terrible car accident about the same time the story broke. That story was quashed because he died, but shouldn’t that have been deemed rape of a minor? I am pretty sure she wasn’t his only victim nor was he the only priest on the island of Jamaica that engaged in such behavior. How many more Father Peggs are in the church? Not just the Roman Catholic Church.
I don’t know what Benedict XVI knew, but it is clear that the Catholic church can’t continue as though the sexual abuse isn’t occurring or didn’t occur. It seems that they continue to kick the can down the road, but isn’t it time for the members to hold the church leaders accountable? People are putting too much trust and faith in church leaders, some of whom are really wolves masquerading as sheep. These scandals should force Christians to reexamine their walk with God and not run to coddle these fallen leaders, giving them a pass, only to commit the same acts all over again. Church leaders should be held accountable when they mess up and the congregants not attack others critical of their leader. This is particularly prevalent in the black church. Take Bishop Eddie L. Long, for example, who fell from grace after being accused of a relationship with four young men, and eventually settling the cases for a large sum of money. When it was painfully obvious that he had betrayed his family and his church, some clung to some phantom belief that he was being crucified by these four men. They were blindly loyal to the extreme. Such blind loyalty is cult-like, in the tradition of Jim Jones and David Koresh.
Religion was forced upon us through the lens of a small group, who translated the Bible to suit themselves and their views on a wide range of issues including marriage and homosexuality. I don’t believe for a minute that God made a mistake when he created each of us. On that basis, I can’t see homosexuality being considered a mistake, as the right wing evangelicals would have us believe. So, why not allow priests to get married to whomever they choose, male or female? It’s time for us to view the Bible through progressive lens. The Catholic Church has played a role in the lives of many people and have been at the forefront of religious discourse across the world, but it has a dirty secret of widespread sexual misconduct that cannot be ignored. Kicking the can down the road should end with Benedict XVI’s abdication.