Fintan O’Toole hits the nail on the head over Keith O’Brien, and the church’s problematic stand on homosexuality (no sniggering Anglicans and etc others, please)…
…in the end, the church’s double life in relation to homosexuality is just cruel. Some priests manage maintaining two different personas very well. Some perhaps even take a kind of pleasure in it. But for some, even at the very top of the clerical tree, it is an appalling strain.
When the desire to touch and be touched, to love and be loved, is “inappropriate behaviour”, it must become appallingly hard to know what is and is not appropriate. In an age when covering up the inevitable outbreaks of desperate desire is increasingly impossible, the church must learn to embrace what is normal and natural.
The most recent pope seems to have been a sincere and learned man. His pin pointing of Francis Bacon and the scientific method is unerringly precise in terms of the power in the secular challenge to the church. But science is not the reason these human tensions can no longer be contained within the church.
British Television first brought secular ideas of divorce and sexual scandal into Irish Catholic homes. British television also broke some of the earlier scandals around the church and child abuse, with people like Mary Raffery following through for RTE and the Irish Times latterly.
TV is one thing, but in one of the last edicts Pope Benedict signed before his resignation he has threatened Cardinals with ex communication for Tweeting from the Conclave.
Putting such a law into force may may reveal an unappealing character trait a church which has never been less than serious about its politics. But it also betrays the degree to which the Pontiff no longer trusts even its most senior members not to break one of its most sacred rules.
The truth is though that in the digital era the revelatory problems of television have now been brought in house to the power of almost infinity. Secrecy, in the conclave, the confessional and even (in the case of the three priests who ‘outed’ Cardinal O’Brien) the employment contract no longer function in the watertight manner they once did.
It is hard also not to the think that there are lessons here for larger more secular corporate entities in a digital age when the individual dissenting voice can worm its way right into and out of the core of an organisation…
It’s also hard not to feel for individuals trapped in the increasingly visble gap between the Catholic Church’s private and public morals.
There may indeed be worse sins than hypocrisy, but few are quite so corrosive when it is serially exposed over time…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty