The predictable rejoicing from the enemies of the Church over the resignation of Cardinal O’Brien centres around his alleged hypocrisy.  The Guardian has gleefully proclaimed that the Church has “lost all authority”, and calls for “a full-scale investigation into the structure and leadership of the Scottish Catholic church”.  Then, we are told: “the commission to oversee this must be headed by an overseas cardinal of impeccable character and must comprise clergy and lay people in equal measure.”

Hypocrisy is generally defined as “the state of promoting or trying to enforce standards, attitudes, lifestyles virtues, beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually hold” or “a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.”  Peter Kreeft in his book Back to Virtue points out that the man who commits adultery is in a better position than the man who thinks and teaches that adultery is sometimes justified: the former is simply a sinner; the latter says “there is no sin.”

Cardinal O’Brien’s remarks today suggest that the allegations against him are true, and that he has fallen short of the Gospel.  This, from what I have read, is an admission of personal sinfulness rather than of hypocrisy: his steadfast defense of marriage still stands and will surely count in his favour on the Day of Judgement; more than can be said for the many bishops who have either remained silent or who have palliated the Church’s teaching to such an extent that it is unrecognisable as such.  “All have sinned, and have fallen short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”  (Rom. 3: 23-24)

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