A Cardinal Speaks

By Kerry Myers - https://www.flickr.com/photos/36583158@N06/6933059295/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52229538

(Actually, he doesn’t, but if he did, this is some of what I would like to hear him say)

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I want to speak to you about today’s appeal court verdict.

I have been reflecting not only on my own situation, and those of my alleged victims, but also the situation of all victims of clergy abuse, and of the Catholic Church itself. Today’s verdict has crystalllised those thoughts.

The Church has been gravely damaged by this scandal, and has to date been slow and reluctant to redeem herself and make proper redress. Regrettably that continues to be the case. The forces of resistance, of whom I regret I once was one, are still strong, and little appears to be changing.

Meanwhile the agony of the victims goes on.

I have asked myself, what can I do that might be of some small help to those victims, and to the church as a whole?

Whilst I do not admit any guilt in the matters lately before the appeal court, I will now abandon all further avenues of appeal, and serve out my sentence in full. I will not seek nor accept remission, nor will I apply for parole.

To do these things may in some small measure help ease the burden on the survivors of the abuse that happened in my church, in my diocese, on my watch. For those things, I accept and admit my guilt, and hope to spare those survivors any additional pain.

Christians are called upon to emulate Christ in our lives. I am ashamed to admit that until now I have failed miserably. I have been proud. I have been haughty. I have sought and attained high office, which I used to impose my will, and not Christ’s, on clergy and laity alike.

I have been a Pharisee, so blinded by obedience to the letter of the law that I have utterly failed to embody its spirit. I am deeply sorry.

For these reasons I accept my punishment and incarceration, not just for the good of my own soul, but also on behalf of the church that I sought to mould in my own image, rather than that of our Lord and Saviour.

It is no longer within my power to pay the redress that ought to be paid to all the church’s victims for the things that were done to them on my watch.

But I have instructed my lawyers not to defend the actions being brought against me in civil court, to liquidate whatever assets I may have, and to gather together all funds that have been raised for my defence, and use all this to compensate those who have been wrong. In the same spirit, I have asked them to forgo their own fees.

I urge the church also not to fight these cases on my behalf, but to offer no defence.

I have also written to the Pope asking to be relieved of all church offices, including the priesthood itself, of which I am not worthy.

May the Lord be with you. And, I dare to hope, in time, with me also.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)