What do you do when your time as a prelate ends not in honourable retirement but in disgrace, asks Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith.
- The Catholic Herald
This question came to mind after reading a transcript of a recent BBC discussion about Cardinal Keith O’Brien, whose current whereabouts are unknown.
'He is a free man in a free country so he can come back [to Scotland] if he wants. But the Holy See will be the ones to ask him to do whatever it is they intend. We all have our own opinions about that and what would be best for him, what would be best for those affected his actions, what would be better for the local Church. What can I say? I think it’s not impossible for Cardinal O’Brien to come back to Scotland, of course it’s not impossible, but personally speaking I think it’s somewhat unlikely that he would return to Scotland. There would be a number of reasons for that, and looking around myself I think it would probably be wiser and more helpful for the future of the Church here if he were not to be back in the country.'
These comments speak for themselves. But the question remains: what is someone in Cardinal O’Brien’s position to do with himself?
There are precedents which might point the way. One is provided by Bishop Eamon Casey, an outline of whose career is found here. After being engulfed in scandal in his home country, the bishop grew a beard and went to work as a missionary in Ecuador. After a few years there, he worked in a parish in England.
During his time in England, Fr Eamon, as he was called, became well known to the people of God locally, and very much loved and respected. He devoted himself to visiting the sick in the local hospital and in their homes. Working in the same hospital I did a few years after he had finally retired to Ireland because of ill health, I was constantly stopped by people in corridors who told me just how much they had appreciated his ministry and how deeply touched they had been by his tireless devotion to the sick. Incidentally, all these people knew of his previous history.
FULL STORY How can Cardinal O'Brien repair the damage?