AS gay Catholics, we have long campaigned for a more inclusive attitude from the church.

On several occasions, we have publicly expressed our disagreement with the stance taken by the church and in particular the intemperate language used on occasions by Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

However, we take no satisfaction from the revelations about his past sexual behaviour and the resignation that followed ("'Sexual conduct fell below standards expected of me'", The Herald, March 4). Our major emotion is one of great sadness.

It is not uncommon for those who are in the closet to attempt to convince others of their heterosexuality by being virulent in their opposition to gay equality. Did Keith O'Brien follow this path?

He has asked for forgiveness for his failings. This forgiveness should be forthcoming – from Catholics and from gay people. Rather than condemning him, we should try to understand the pressures and forces that led him to make statements that could be seen as hypocritical. And we should remember that, on many other issues, he was considered to be a liberal.

If the Catholic Church begins the process of examining the harm caused by its dogmatic stance on sexual matters, then some good will have come out of this sad sequence of events.

We hope that in his retirement Keith O'Brien will find peace and happiness. Judgment we leave to God.

Kevin Crowe and Simon Long,

17c Balnakeil,


CARDINAL O'Brien did not pick the issues he had to battle over. From the perspective of the church, it saw a society that was obsessed with sex, the sexualisation of children through encouraging them to dress like adults, the commercialisation of sex in pursuit of profits and finally the demand for what the church saw as a perversion of marriage.

Cardinal O'Brien never attacks the individual, only their lifestyle. Only the cardinal knows if he is a hypocrite. Over the past 30 years how much personal torment has he gone through, caught between his conscience and the pronouncements he knew his role in the church demanded?

Our unforgiving society demands transparency and openness; in which case let us apply this to ourselves. How many of our backgrounds could withstand the level of scrutiny to which the cardinal has been subjected? How hypocritical are we when we point the finger?

This society takes great pleasure in making judgments and rejoices when its prey is defeated. The message the church preaches about our personal lifestyles is often not an easy one. Its members are required each day to "pick up their cross and follow Christ".

This is a time to reflect on our own shortcomings. Would we like to stand up in public and confess them? This is a time for all people of goodwill to pray for the cardinal and not condemn a man who has now been publicly humiliated.

Gerry Devlin,

34 Monroe Drive,


I DO not think anyone in the gay Christian community should exult about the fate of Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

May inner peace be upon him and may he come to terms with his sexuality. May the young think now, as never before, for themselves and distrust dogma.

The cardinal was perhaps not to blame for his total indoctrination into Catholic teaching on sex and, when his time comes one day, may he rest in peace, a felicity he would have denied to my friends and me.

David Rodger,

24 Caledonian Road,


WHAT if a person holds the fundamental conviction that a certain behaviour is wrong and preaches against it, yet endures an inner conflict with the temptation to do that very thing – and succumbs at times?

That is not hypocrisy, but demonstration of the New Testament teaching that even the committed Christian is sadly fallible and failure-prone. Yet that sinfulness, if enacted in weakness then confessed in sincerity, is no barrier to a life of closest fellowship with God.

St Paul speaks of this inner agony in Romans, Chapter 7 ("The good that I would, I do not"), and St John states the case definitively in his First Epistle, Chapter 1 ("If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnesss").

Stuart Mitchell,

29 Windyedge Crescent,


CARDINAL O'Brien was a fine priest, of deep spirituality, and that is not to whitewash the huge suffering of everyone else concerned in this. But Christ's words were: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone", and "Go, and sin no more".

Veronica Gordon Smith,

50C Newbattle Terrace,


AMONG the suggested remedies from Professor John Haldane, Consultor to the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture, to o cure the deep malaise in the Catholic Church in Scotland is a drastic reduction in the number of dioceses.

The merits of such a proposal have been talked about for years and the crisis provoked by Cardinal O'Brien's resignation should be regarded as an opportunity finally to do something.

However, any such reform has to eradicate the central problem of the debilitating rivalry between the archdioceses of Glasgow and Edinburgh, which has bedevilled the church since the restoration of the Scottish hierarchy in 1878. The most egregious manifestation of this internecine warfare is the vainglorious project to turn a former convent, in the suburbs of Glasgow, into the headquarters of the Scottish Bishops' Conference, with overnight accommodation for all Scottish bishops and their retinue. The cost of conversion has risen to more than £4m and has crippled the finances of the church.

The excuse for putting it in Glasgow has been that it is where most Scottish Catholics live, ignoring the fact that the capital, less than an hour away, has a perfectly good under-used facility, at the Gillis Centre, which could accommodate the HQ.

A major casualty of this rivalry has been the Edinburgh-based Scottish Catholic Archives, which the emeritus archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, is determined to dismember, pleading poverty among the reasons. It has lost its outstanding Keeper of the Archives and his assistant. Their replacement comes across from Glasgow twice a week and offers a much-reduced service.

Complaints by dissatisfied readers have been rebutted but not refuted by the secretary to the Scottish Bishops' Conference, while votes of no confidence from the Scottish Catholic Historical Association, the Scottish History Society, and the Society for Scottish Medieval and Renaissance Studies have been ignored by the hierarchy. This is another glaring example of the dysfunctional Church in Scotland.

Professor Ian Campbell,

10 Harbour Place,