CARDINAL O'Brien may be long gone from public life, following the scandal surrounding his "inappropriate behaviour" with a number of priests – but if the Catholic Church thought his speedy departure, accelerated by the Vatican, would close the door on clerical scandals, then the hierarchy was wrong.
As we report today, victims who were abused by church figures as children are asking why it took just days to get rid of O'Brien, yet decades after crimes were committed against them, no action has been taken. O'Brien is guilty of being a hypocrite – he castigated homosexuals and denounced gay marriage, yet he was drawn to men himself. However, he committed no crime. He carried out no act of evil.
In contrast, the Catholic Church in Scotland has known for years about the scandal of child abuse happening under the noses of the hierarchy. Back in 2000 this newspaper ran a series of disturbing investigations into institutionalised child abuse. One report centered on a priest who carried out a series of sexual assaults and rapes against an eight-year-old boy in Lanarkshire being allowed to continue working unsupervised with children within the Catholic Church in Scotland.
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The church's decision to allow the priest continued access to children was criticised by its own special adviser on sexual abuse by priests. Alan Draper, a former social work director and lecturer on ethics at Dundee University, was asked to consult with the victim, known as Liam. Draper said he believed Liam had been abused by the priest, adding that the church should have suspended him as he presented a risk to other children.
This weekend, another victim stepped forward. Known only as Chris, he told how his life was "ruined" after being abused by a priest from the age of around nine. The Catholic Church in Scotland said it removed the priest from his parish when the allegations were made last year and a file on the allegations has been sent to the Vatican. It is still waiting for a decision.
We wait for action to be taken on these allegations, yet for an act of hypocrisy by O'Brien, the entire church can swing into gear in just days. That is a moral and legal failing, and the church's priorities must change if it is to maintain its Christian values. Dealing with the crimes of paedophiles supercedes any concerns facing the church – even the election of a new Pope.