This is all very strange. Why have these priests attacked Cardinal O’Brien now? Supposedly because of the conclave. Why then did they not accuse him before the last conclave. Is it because of his opposition to ‘Gay Marriage’? Why then did they not bring it up earlier? His opposition has been vociferous. They could have been waiting until Salmond campaign for ‘Gay Marriage’ reaches a more critical point but O’Brien was going anyway in few weeks so there was no point in waiting any longer.

Cardinal O’Brien was certainly seen as quite a liberal until he was elevated to the Sacred College. The then Cardinal Ratzinger imposed upon him an additional paragraph to his oath of office including the words “I accept and intend to defend the law on ecclesiastical celibacy as it is proposed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church”. Cardinal O’Brien seemed to have a genuine conversion after making this oath. His defence of the the Church’s moral teaching has been almost ferocious and he has been facilitative of the extraordinary form in Edinburgh. Contrary to what some poisonous commentators on the BBC have suggested there was no incentive for him to pretend to hold these views. He had nowhere else to go. He was never going to be elected Pope and the job isn’t in the gift of the incumbent anyway. It was all the more sad therefore to see him calling for an impossible change in the Church’s discipline of clerical celibacy ahead of the new conclave. There is a sad irony in the fact that this misfortune has come upon him so swiftly after his departure from the terms of his oath. Regardless of the truth or falsity of the allegations let us pray that that reflection is profitable for him and that he may still receive the reward of his labours since 2003.