Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s BBC interview gives impression future pope may re-consider married and women priests

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the senior prelate of the UK, has said in an interview with the BBC that a future pope may re-consider the question of dispensing with mandatory celibacy for priests to allow married priests, and the question of women priests. Cardinal O’Brien expressed his personal opinion that priests should be allowed to marry.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

‘The Cardinal, the only mainland British cleric with a vote on Benedict XVI’s successor, said it would also be open to the new Pope to reconsider issues such as the ordination of women as priests.’

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Cardinal O’Brien said it would be “within the scope” of the new Pope to reconsider a range of controversial teachings.
Some of them were issues which had “come down from the teaching of Jesus Christ himself”, he said, but not all.

“For example the celibacy of the clergy – whether priests should marry, Jesus didn’t say that,” he said. “There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church – in some branches of the Catholic church – priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine of origin and it could get discussed again.”

He said he did not personally feel the need to marry but added: “I would like others to have the choice. “In my time there was no choice and you didn’t really consider it too much, it was part of being a priest.

“When I was a young boy, the priest didn’t get married and that was it and when you were a student for the priesthood it was really part of the package, as it were, and you didn’t really consider it all that much you just took your vows of celibacy just as somebody else would take their vows of marriage.”
He added: “I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should be married.

“It is a free world and I realise that many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family of their own.

Protect the Pope comment: What’s going on? We expect the usual suspects to lose their heads in reaction to Pope Benedict’s resignation, the likes of Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, Bishop Conry and Bishop Burns, but now we have Cardinal O’Brien raising the possibility of a future pope re-considering the ordination of women priests, and ditching the long established tradition in the Latin rite Catholic Church of mandatory celibacy for the priesthood.

In view of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s comment about women priests makes no senses at all. Pope John Paul concluded, ‘Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.’

In the heat of the moment of the interview did Cardinal O’Brien forget this definitive statement? How could he forget it, it’s black and white, couldn’t be clearer? Why in God’s name did Cardinal O’Brien engage with these issues raised by the BBC interviewer as if he was having a chat with a friend or fellow cardinal? Doesn’t he realise that by accepting the premise of the questions he has now given the impression to the liberal media that Catholics doctrines are like political policies and can be changed with a change of pope! Cardinal O’Brien also made the shocking mistake of leaving the viewer with the impression that the unchangeable doctrines of the Church are only those based on Scripture, and not those rooted in  Tradition.

So where are we  as UK Catholics after these turbulent days after the Holy Father’s announcement of his abdication? As a result of interviews and lectures given by our two cardinals that have questioned the Church’s teaching on condoms, married priests, and even raised re-considering the question of women’s ordination, there is a sense that the Church is in chaotic free-fall, that certainties so painfully defended and re-established by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are crumbling under the media spotlight, with pastors who should know better speaking without prudence or wisdom, or just plain commonsense. The BBC are one of the enemies of the Catholic Church, so why are bishops behaving as if they’re our best friends who can be confided in?

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

67 comments to Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s BBC interview gives impression future pope may re-consider married and women priests

  • Dr Mark Thorne

    Really, really depressed and disheartened to read these comments. I can see that my days as a practicing Catholic are sadly in danger of being numbered.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Hi Mark, I share your sense of being disheartened but take heart from the truth that when we received the sacrament of confirmation we were strengthened with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. We are in the heat of battle, Our Lord Jesus Christ is our King, and he leads from the heart of the battle. He is our liege Lord, we cannot desert him even though others in higher office make mistakes in the conduct of strategy. Make these words of St Paul your motto, they are mine ‘Be aware of all the dangers;stay firm in the faith; be brave and be strong. Let everything you do be done in love.’ And remember always, the devil is prowling round like a hungry lion, wanting to eat our souls. Stand up to him, strong in faith. Deacon Nick

      • Dr Mark Thorne

        Dear Deacon Nick,

        Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement. I must admit I was probably reading your latest post a little too late at night. After a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling re-energized. Thank you especially for reminding me about the strengthening in the Holy Spirit that we all receive at our confirmations.

        I suppose you could draw an analogy with football – managers can be useless, the players may not show much commitment or enthusiasm and they come and go, but it is the fans who uphold the institutions of their football clubs. In the model of the church, that means the laity. I shall offer special prayers for Pope Benedict today and for his successor – and ask the Holy Spirit to make me of sterner stuff as well. Resorting to despair should never be the way of any Christian of any denomination, let alone a Catholic who embraces the fullness of the truth that is manifested in the Catholic Church. God Bless you, Deacon Nick – and thanks for all your hard work in being a robust upholder of the Truth and defender of the Pope, when attacks come from all sides – and alas – from within the Church.

      • Michael Petek

        Are you going to preach any time soon, Nick, on contraception as an example of an idolatrous practice?

        • Deacon Nick Donnelly

          I have recently talked to student married deacons on the importance of abiding by Humanae Vitae in their lives. I haven’t explored the idolatrous dimension, and will give it some thought. Deacon Nick

          • Michael Petek

            If idolatry were a criminal offence . . .

            “Members of the jury, the Defendants, a husband and wife, have admitted that they commenced a marital act and that the wife had taken a contraceptive pill, which is before the court as Exhibit A. The law says that idolatry is committed in relation to some subject matter of whatever description which God has reserved to Himself.

            “The law does not allow me to elaborate further on this definition of idolatry. The questions for you, as judges of fact, are two: (1) Did the Defendants’s use of contraception amount to a determination by them that there should not be created a new human being? and (2) Has God reserved such a determination to Himself?

            “The answers to these questions are a matter for you to determine, using your own common sense to make such inferences from the evidence as seem proper to you. If you are certain beyond reasonable doubt – that is, if you are certain so that you are sure – that both questions are to be answered in the affirmative, then you may convict the Defendants of idolatry. Ifin respect of either question you are unsure, then you must deliver a verdict of not guilty.

            “Now members of the jury, you may retire to consider your verdict.”

  • Lynda

    I’m surprised at the apparent carelessness of these comments as reported, coming from Cardinal O’Brien.

  • Ioannes

    Has the old boy lost it? He seems to be under the impression that Eastern Rite priests are allowed to marry.

  • Wake up England

    Good Lord, he ought to be sacked; if he were in any other job he would be! And rightly too. Let us pray the Holy Spirit will send us a very strong new Pope who will e able to deal swiftly with the tidal wave of heresy which is flowing so freely from numerous Priests, Bishops and, I’m sorry to say, Cardinals! We’re in a REAL MESS fellow Catholics; and the Church needs emergency aid from God. And that right soon

  • Andrei

    and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church – in some branches of the Catholic church – priests can get married,

    He is wrong on that, what he should say is that married men may be ordained – Priests, once ordained cannot marry.

    This is an important distinction

    • Michael Petek

      There was a time when, in the Persian Church of the 5th century, men could marry after ordination, and had to be married. Priests under the Law of Moses were limited as to the women they could marry, and the reason for the law survived the repeal of the Law of Moses and guarantees the justice of any law which either impedes clergy from marrying or imposes continence upon those who are married.

      That principle is the principle of holiness. God gave to the human race a general law of marriage, but a law of divorce to none but Israel. Among the Jews it is held that a marriage between Gentiles is dissolved by the very fact that one of them, but not the other, becomes a Jew. Otherwise, any marriage between persons who are for the time being in disparity of cult (1 Cor 7) is outside the scope of the law of indissolubility. ‘Disparity of cult’ means that one spouse is baptised and the other is not, or that one is Jewish and the other not.

      That one of the spouses is in a state of holiness not shared by the other tends to speak in favour the dissolution of their marriage or the requirement of continence within it. But among the baptised it is only a tendency founded on a principle, not a hard law unless canonically enacted.

  • Trisagion

    Nick, I’ve heard the interview and read the coverage. Where do you pick up the women priests thing?

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      I too have listened to the interview, all 28 minutes of it. The cardinal does talk about the question of the ordination of women. It’s also referred to in the article in The Daily Telegraph.

        • Pedro de Luna

          Deacon Nick – he didn’t express support for women priests in that particular clip. He said that it was up to the next Pope to decide whether to raise the issue or not.

          I don’t believe a word the Telegraph says about anything.

        • Trisagion

          Yes Nick but you imply he called for the next Pope to reconsider it. He simply didn’t. The matter was raised by the interviewer and he moved it on with “Well its up to him (the next Pope) to consider each and every issue that has come before the Church in recent years.” I think your post implies that his views on the ordination of women are in line with those he expresses on priestly celibacy. I don’t think that is an inference that can be drawn from his remarks and, believe me, if it was remotely capable of being drawn the secular media would have run with headlines about that rather than about his explicit remarks about celibacy.

          • Deacon Nick Donnelly

            Trisagion, I’ve listened to your comments and have sought to clarify the post by changing the title. Deacon Nick

  • Lola

    Married priests? So which of the two Sacraments will a married priest give priority to when one is bound by Holy Order and Holy Matrimony? We already have religious priests who have charge of Parishes who already have divided loyalty where the priority is their order’s ministry rather than the Diocese’s. If we have a shortage of priests, I’d rather that we merge or close Churches.

    “…many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family of their own.”

    The statement of the Cardinal above is a reflection of his failure to provide support for priests in his diocese, as well as an impoverished discernment process in the seminaries and by the candidate to the priesthood.

    As to women priests. What in the world is he talking about? He ought to know better because if Cardinal O’Brien is implying that the Catholic Church can ordain women, then he is implying that Church laws/teachings can be changed by mere mortals. So, what now Cardinal O’Brien? You will only have gagged yourself and the Church with regards Her position against same sex union.

    I think it is about time that we openly challenge Cardinals and Bishops who publicly grandstand against the Catholic Church. Enough is enough.

    ““Who is going to save our Church? Not our Bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

  • buckle

    The bishops are convinced that if they tell the media what they want to hear then this is their own individual credibility enhanced locally. You would think that that after 50 years they would grasp that this policy has failed completely.

  • Add this to the pro-abortion statement of the German Catholic bishops this week and I’m left wondering what our leaders are playing at. I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

  • Genty

    They kept their heads down during the present pontificate. Now we are seeing them for what they are. I don’t believe the Church is in freefall. It is the episcopate which is showing itself to be the many-headed hydra.
    The rock of faith, at least in the UK, is largely the laity who remain as practising Catholics.

  • Karla

    I think there is such beauty about a priest being celibate, it makes priests stand out from the laity. There are some married Catholic priests and I am sure many of them are devoted to their vocation but when you have a family to take care of you have other priorities as well as the vocation. There are also economic concerns.

    As for women priests, WHAT IS CARDINAL O’BRIEN SAYING? This blog has revealed what a number of the British Bishops have said in response to Pope Benedict’s resignation and it is deeply concerning

    I thought a Pope had no authority to change the gender for the priesthood? People somebody clarify

    Francis Philips says in this article, ‘The Holy Father has no power to change the nature of the ordained priesthood’

    This article says, ‘No pope, bishop, or council can change the constitutive elements of any of the seven sacraments, and a valid Sacrament of Holy Orders requires a baptized male to be ordained by a validly ordained bishop. Maleness is as essential to the Sacrament of Holy Orders as wheat bread and grape wine are to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. So just as the pope can’t change the requirements of valid matter for the Holy Eucharist, he can’t change the requirements of valid matter for Holy Orders.’

    Who is correct, because somebody has got it seriously wrong. Cardinal O’Brien or these 2 sources?

  • I’m not sure he actually does talk about women priests. I didn’t pick that up when I watched the video (admittedly quite late last night) and the Grauniad (hardly likely to miss an opportunity to snipe) didn’t pick it up either. I suspect this might be an example of sloppy reporting in the DT: the Cardinal does talk about the possibility of married priests and a writer (not appreciating the difference) has run this into the other usual questions of women priests etc, ignoring the Cardinal’s clear statement that some things can be debated (such as clericial celibacy) and some can’t.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      The Cardinal’s response to the question of women priests is at 17.30 in the BBC interview on the BBC website.

      • As Trisagion and Pedro de Luna have pointed out already, what he actually says is that: “Well its up to him (the next Pope) to consider each and every issue that has come before the Church in recent years.” (Having previously noted that earlier Popes have said that there should be no more discussion on the subject.) This sounded to me more of a way of moving the conversation on with an interviewer who was clearly obsessed with the usual liberal issues rather than an endorsement of the reconsideration of women’s ordination. He later (18.30) draws a careful distinction between what is taught on divine authority and cannot be changed and what might be changed -and the only example he mentions of the latter is clerical celibacy (on which point he is of course right).

        I’m sure the next Pope will think about women’s ordination. And after two seconds of doing this, he will move on to something that he actually can change.

        • ‘ “Well its up to him (the next Pope) to consider each…” ‘

          Not much different from “who knows what’s down the road…”

          Whether the other stuff is true or not, the pope must have heard us all when he just sacked him yesterday!

  • comte de Frebonius

    Rememeber O Brien had to take an oath of loyalty before receiving the Red Hat! This shows that he is a liberal underneath all. Why can we no have Cardinals of the calibre of Bishop Davis and Egan? I say that in charity, Cardinals Murphy OConnor and O Brien are a disgrace to the Church by causing the faithful such upsets!

  • Riflemen819

    Deacon Nick ,
    Keith o’Brien has dropped a clanger.It is all the heady turbulence of a Papal Conclave and you are right-offering your head on a platter to the media.
    AS better way……..intense media training for everyone in the RCC in E and W who has in any way to engage with the media.
    Our leaders might fail but the foot soldiers will win the war-in the end

  • Bain Wellington

    This is the passage from the interview that demonstrates how vital it has been to present to seminarians a compelling justification for the discipline of priestly celibacy (and how the absence of any such attempt must have contributed to the chaos in the minds of a minority of clergy, ordained before 1970, who – particularly in the years from 1960 to 1985 – had no spiritual and psychological resources to resist the sexual revolution in which they then wallowed with such grievous consequences for the Church):-

    “When I was a young boy, the priest didn’t get married and that was it and when you were a student for the priesthood it was really part of the package, as it were, and you didn’t really consider it all that much you just took your vows of celibacy just as somebody else would take their vows of marriage.” [Card. O'Brien was ordained in April, 1965]

    See that? “You didn’t really consider it all that much”. That was a truly alarming approach, but the young Fr. O’Brien should have been among the last to be subjected to ecclesiastical studies which took celibacy for granted.

    The Second Vatican Council in its penultimate document (Presbyterorum ordinis, n.16) presented positive reasons why celibacy was to be embraced and esteemed as a gift (not as something candidates for the priesthood didn’t think about). Pope Paul VI expanded on this in his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (1967), as has the Synod of Bishops three times (1971, Ultimis Temporibus; 1990, cf Pastores Dabo vobis, n.29; and 2005, cf Sacramentum Caritatis, n.24). A truly mature theocentric grounding for priestly celibacy was given by the Holy Father in his Christmas Address to the Curia in December 2006 (in the context of his Apostolic Journey to Bavvaria). See

    It seems extraordinary that His Eminence should not have tempered his remarks by mentioning the sea-change in attitudes to priestly celibacy as disclosed by the magisterium in the documents cited above.

  • Simon

    Relax. Celibacy is not a central doctrine, not a doctrine at all really. The status of women is bound to change, bound to. Relax. Get in tune with your hierarchy.

  • John Dare

    Has it always been the rule that priests can’t marry?

  • I’d go easy on the Cardinal. He’s hardly calling for these things.It looks like foot in mouth to me- an occupational hazard when dealing with the ill-informed intellectual pygmies of the media.

  • Bob Hayes

    The Holy Father has ensured that all Cardinals will make a public and individual oath of obedience to the next Pontiff at his inauguration.

    Let us all pray that this focuses the attention of the dissenters, and those inclined to ‘think aloud’ to the media, upon their role and the vows they have taken. We must be grateful to Pope Benedict for ensuring this public declaration will take place.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I have listened carefully to this interview. The interviewer mentions women priests:

    “Would you welcome the next Pope revisiting the issue of women priests?”

    and the Cardinal responds:

    “It is up to him to consider each and every issue which has come before the Church in recent years. Previous Popes have said that matter of whether or not women could be ordained priests was not even to be discussed. Things like celibacy of the clergy and so on there are issues like this that I am sure the next Pope will consider himself first of all before deciding whether or not to raise these issues with the Church in general.”

    Now I take that to mean that he makes it clear that the ordination of women was an issue not to be discussed and therefore off the agenda. He then goes on to say there are other issues such as clerical celibacy which the Pope might consider privately first before deciding whether or not to raise them with the Church in general. So can one not see it as the Pope considering a list of issues that have come up starting with the ordination of women and putting a red line through that straight away (or perhaps he might decide to restate the orthodox teaching in a clear manner) and then going on to think about whether to raise the subject of clerical celibacy.

    One might think that his response that it was not a subject to be discussed was not the best response but that has been the position of the Church.

    I really do think though that we are jumping to conclusions and reading things into live statements that are simply not justified. If you continue to listen to what the Cardinal goes on to say about certain dogma being incapable of change etc I believe no-one can challenge his orthodoxy.

    Listening to a live interview it is very easy to get the wrong message and I think we ought to be very careful not to make mistakes such as when some attributed a remark by an atheist Diarmaid MacCullough to Cardinal Cormac. One can say many things about the latter but that was not one of them!

    • Karla

      ‘But he says core beliefs against abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage are not negotiable.’

      He never added women in the priesthood to the list

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Karla: It was the interviewer who put together that list NOT Cardinal O’Brien. He responds that there are basic beliefs which cannot be changed. He could of course have added that the impossibility of ordaining women was one of them but he did not, no more than he could have added a whole string of matters that are basic beliefs.

        It is not easy being interviewed by skilled journalists and I am sure if any of us is interviewed we would all wish that we had expressed ourselves better. But this is what the French call “esprit de l’escalier”.

        Cardinal O’Brien is a great man and thoroughly orthodox who speaks out with great courage to proclaim the Gospel. Let us not pick holes in what he says. I was at Mass last year when he gave a sermon prefaced with some words about how he would never be elected Pope!

  • Karla

    Women in the preisthood being discussed:

    ‘PHILIP WILLIAMS: Cardinal O’Brian says the issue of women’s place in the church could also be revisited.

    KEITH O’BRIEN: Previous popes have said that matter of whether or not women could be ordained priests just wasn’t even to be discussed.

    There were issues like this that I’m sure the next Pope will consider himself, first of all, before deciding whether or not to raise these issues with the Church in general.’

    • Nicolas Bellord

      Karla: You refer us to a discussion of the original interview. Can I refer you to what Cardinal O’Brien actually said?

      “It is up to him to consider each and every issue which has come before the Church in recent years. Previous Popes have said that matter of whether or not women could be ordained priests was not even to be discussed. Things like celibacy of the clergy and so on there are issues like this that I am sure the next Pope will consider himself first of all before deciding whether or not to raise these issues with the Church in general.”

      I have highlighted an important qualifier which has been omitted from the discussion you linked to. What he surely is saying is that women priests are off the agenda for discussion. When he says “issues like this” the “this” does NOT refer to the women priests issue but to matters like celibacy of the clergy which are matters of discipline and not of dogma. Leaving out the qualifier which have highlighted completely distorts what he actually said.

      • Karla

        I hope you are correct because it does not come off that way. It is very important that when the Bishops are quoted that what they say, especially on these issues, is as clear as possible so that it can not be misconstrued, because otherwise it leads to confusion as this has shown

  • John Kearney

    In the early Church there were many married men who became priests, but the issue is not marriage but celibacy. The married men were expected to give up sexual relationship with their wives. There have always been priests who find this difficult, but surely this means they are reluctant then to give `everything to Christ. This question has been the subject of debate throughout Church history. At the Council of Elvira the Fathers ruled they could not change this since it was `a practice handed down by the “Apostles and other eminent men” So it is not something changeable but something definitively ruled on by the Early Church. Married priests promising celibacy only disappeared after the setting up of seminaries after the Council of Trent.

  • Joseph Matthew

    It would have been far better for the bishops to have reassured us that there may be a see change coming but no sea change. The bishops I trust, Egan and Davis, have sensibly not speculated about what the next Pope will do. We have to remember that the Pope who gave us Humanae Vitae was somewhat less confident than JP II. Surely this indicates the work of the Holy Spirit. So I agree with Simon : we can relax because it is impossible for there to be a change in matters of morals or doctrine.

  • John Kearney

    I should have added that the Churches in the East and West were not separated at the Council of Elvira. The ruling of this Council also applied in the East. It was when the churches split that the Eastern Churches gave into the calls for married priests not to be forced to be celibate though they could not progress to Bishops. This was at their Council of Truro in the seventh century.

  • Amanda Peter

    To all who read this. On Ash Wednesday, the church I attended for the 12 noon mass was celebrated by a priest ‘helping out’ as the usual parish priest was away that week. News of Holy Fathers resignation was a little more 48 hours old. At the beginning of Lent for the Ash Wednesday mass the priest began, ” Thank God we no longer believe in mortal sin. The church has long put that teaching to bed. I don’t think anyone really commits mortal sin.” I was deeply shocked, scandalised. What a thing to say at anytime and at the beginning of Lent. I am sorry I did not pull out my iphone and start videoing him. In this particular parish it is also common knowledge that the present parish secretary has married the previous parish priest. It is common knowledge that the X parish priest who has married the then and still current parish secretary only got married in a court of law. They were not married in church and he has not been laicised by Rome. They still come as a couple to mass on Sundays and receive holy communion. This Ash Wednesday the X parish priest living in a marriage not blessed by the Church got up to help the visiting priest who told us mortal sin does not exist, to help him give out ashes. The X parish priest currently ‘married’ to his one time secretary without dispensation from Rome, stood there and dared to put ashes on peoples foreheads telling them to ” Repent and believe in the Gospel!!!!!” I asked the parish priest given that their situation is common knowledge is he aiding and abetting sacrilegious communion by giving it to them when they come up? What a scandal top all in the parish.The current parish priest said he won’t sanction the X parish priest – he said its up to the Bishop to do it. I suggested to him, he just bless them if they come for Holy Communion. What a mockery of God, a mockery of His Church and a mockery of His teachings. We can all sin. We are all sinners. But the one who finds Mercy is the one who admits his sin. Not the one who denies it exists. He will ‘scatter the proud in the conceit of their hearts’. A humble and contrite heart O God you will not spurn.

  • Lynda

    It is rather disedifying and confusing and unsettling for those not sufficiently strong and educated in the Faith. It tends to ring the episcopate and Church in general into disrepute, even if only by malice on the part of reporters or misunderstanding on the part of some listeners. Extremely careless and imprudent at minimum, requiring correction when the response is clear.

  • Augustine

    A real scandal.

    This ignorant and foolish priest should thank the Devil, not God, if he no longer believes in mortal sin.

    If he doesn’t take sin seriously, then he is in effect saying that God the Son need not have bothered to have taken on human flesh and to suffer and die for our salvation.

    Salvation and redemption mean saving us all from sin. Period.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

    “Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: ‘All mortal sins of which penitants after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession’. ” (paragraph 1456)

    and also

    “Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution.” (Paragraph 1457)

    If you are not in a state of grace, and you make a sacrilegious communion then far from receiving grace you are committing a very serious sin.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      Well this comes as a shock. But let us note that this is a complaint to the Vatican alleging inappropriate behaviour towards men of age some thirty years ago. So far there is no allegation of criminal behaviour such as might involve the police. I would have thought that a complaint to the Vatican of this nature would be something that would be made in confidence. However it seems that the priests have taken a view: ‘They are, though, concerned that the church will ignore their complaints, and want the conclave electing the new pope to be “clean”.’

      The problem is that the words “inappropriate behaviour” can mean a whole range of things in the same way the word “abuse” can be abused. It could range from the trivial to the seriously criminal. Calling somebody a silly cow is abusive but hardly something to get too excited about. And if the matter is not serious i.e. not criminal what exactly is the point of raising it after thirty years? In the present atmosphere people, just reading the headline and little more, will think of paedophilia and yet another priest doing terrible things. He will be judged by the media before being able to defend himself. Does one not forgive and try to forget? What about “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone?”. How many of us can say we never did something that we afterwards regretted in our youth? Do these priests honestly believe that none of the other Cardinals in the conclave have not been guilty of sins in the past? Does that make them unsuitable to attend the conclave and vote?

      I wonder whether these priests thought this one through as by making it public they seem to be doing the maximum damage to the Church at a very critical moment. I do wonder about their motives unless they can prove that “inappropriate behaviour” was something very serious. In the meantime let us all remember that the Cardinal is innocent until proved guilty. Unfortunately there will be many who will not give him that consideration.

    • Haslam

      we can’t complain about media gossip and indueno and then endulge in it ourselves.

      I am starting to think that this site does more harm than good.

  • Lionel (Paris)

    “The ordination of women”
    First) the establishment of the marriage of priests would indeed lead to a regression.
    Secondly) besides the fact that the “functionary”, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is engaged in demagoguery, he should certainly return to his studies or retire to a monastery…
    I cannot resist to remind you the excellent Anthony’s refutation on “the ordination of women”:
    July 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm · Reply
    The Catholic Church venerates Our Lady as the pinnacle of womanhood, both as Mother and Virgin.
    For a woman to seek priesthood would assume a dimension distinct from the fulfilment of womanhood achieved by Our Lady. It would diminish Our Lady as the model of perfect and complete womanhood by introducing a further role for women, one in which she does not partake.
    The arrival of women priests would mean that Our Lady, despite her position as Mother of God and Virgin of virgins, no longer represents the pinnacle of womanhood. It would be an admission that she is lacking in her fulfilment of that role since she has missed out on a further role which is the priestly ministry.
    Clearly, for Catholics this would be an intolerable position. Our Lady is God’s perfect creature whom He has crowned as Queen of Heaven. She has received God’s favour and is lacking in nothing. Female ministry would be a contradiction of her position and therefore a contradiction of the marvels that God has done for her.

    L’Église catholique vénère Notre-Dame comme le summum de la féminité, à la fois comme Mère et Vierge.
    Pour une femme de demander le Sacerdoce suppose une dimension distincte de l’accomplissement de la féminité réalisé par Notre-Dame. Elle diminuerait Notre-Dame en tant que modèle de la femme parfaite et complète en introduisant un autre rôle pour les femmes auquel Elle ne participe pas.
    L’avènement de femmes prêtres signifierait que Notre-Dame, en dépit de sa position en tant que Mère de Dieu et Vierge des vierges, ne représente plus le summum de la féminité. Ce serait un aveu qu’Elle fait défaut dans son accomplissement de ce rôle depuis qu’Elle a été privée d’un autre rôle qui est le Ministère Sacerdotal.
    De toute évidence, pour les catholiques ce serait une situation intolérable. Notre-Dame est une créature parfaite de Dieu qu’Il a couronnée en tant que Reine du Ciel. Elle a reçu la faveur de Dieu et ne manque de rien. Le “ministère de la femme” serait en contradiction avec sa position et donc en contradiction avec les merveilles que Dieu a réalisées en Elle.

  • Amanda Peter

    I wonder if that that is a ploy to falsely accuse Cardinal O’ Brien because he speaks out against the gay lobby and reminds people that acts of homosexuality are grievously wrong, they are mortal sins.

  • buckle

    It’s curious that they make the accusations now and after 33 years …

  • Thomas

    Well, well, well….the “good” Cardinal turns out not only to be a liberal who is causing scandal and disunity before a conclave but he also appears to have a past. Allegations of sexual misconduct just filed by some priests against the “good” Cardinal. Well I guess every dog gets his day. The “good” Cardinal shouldn’t be wasting his time on something like married priests, he should concentrate on cleaning up the clergy and his own life. Married priests are the last thing that todays priests need unless of course the Church begins allowing gay married priests. Let’s be honest 99% of todays priests aren’t looking for wives, they want a big burly man to take care of them. That’s a big reason why the Church is falling apart.

  • Peter

    There is no theological reason why a priest cannot marry. None..

  • peter

    there are no theological reasons to prevent a priest marrying. None whatsoever

  • Lionel (Paris)

    I confess that I must have been quite unfair and disrespectful towards Cardinal Keith O’Brien as my anger was related exclusively to his interview with the BBC. I suspect that those priests complaining against him are actually slandering him and attempting to exercise blackmail.
    Therefore, I firmly apology.

  • SteveD

    John K, ‘celibacy’ is the single state, it is not the same as sexual continence. Every unmarried person is celibate and every married person is not, whatever their bedtime habits.

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick , Ladies and gentlemen,

    The latest news regarding the accusations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien looks prima facie very serious.

    On the other hand there is a presumption in criminal law of innocence until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt-in civil law on the balance of probabilities and of course in Scotland-case not proven.

  • Bill Jowett

    Homophobic – homosexual. Rearrange these words to describe any church leader that you can think of. “awaitIng moderation”!!

  • John Dare

    Forgive me folks, but this situation is sooo funny. Not the position of the cardinal BTW, no idea and don’t much care what he might, or might not have done.

    Its just watching this discussion since the news came out. Its like watchimg one of those old Wily Coyote catoons where he’s flying along after the road runner, then the road runs out. Priceless :)

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