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Is/was Cardinal Keith O'Brien a serial sexual predator?

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"After listening to the admissions of Cardinal O’Brien, I felt compelled to make a formal complaint in order to trigger a full criminal investigation.

'I was shocked to hear there is to be an internal investigation only. This will be heard behind closed doors and the full findings would not be published.

'This isn’t justice. Justice needs to be seen to be done and the Catholic Church has a moral and legal obligation to co-operate fully with any criminal investigation.’"- [1]

"It’s not the fact that he was gay, which everyone knew about. But that he was a predator. [2]"- {{{2}}}

Did six men fabricate stories?Edit

Intuitively the allegations of the four original complainants and the two additional complaints look plausible, after all there has been one scandal after another involving sexual impropriety by supposedly Celibate Priests [3] and there have been no scandals involving priests or former priests colluding to make false accusations.

Still what intuitively looks plausible should not lead to a conviction in a court of law.

Cardinal O'Brien has said that he "contests" the claims against him, but he has refused to deny them outright. A statement on Monday conspicuously lacked a rebuttal. [4]

As the accusations mounted up the possibility that the cardinal wasn't a sexual predator became steadily less credible but as of 2015 still nothing has been proved through sworn testimony in court.

Natural justiceEdit

One suggestion is as worrying as the accusations.

A source within the Catholic Church also said the cardinal "doesn't know who his accusers are and doesn't know what they're accusing him of". [5]
The suggestion that the cardinal doesn't know the charges against him was repeated later. [4] What's happened to Natural justice? In UK law
(1) Audi alteram partem (Latin for, hear the other side): no accused, or a person directly affected by a decision, shall be condemned unless given full chance to prepare and submit his or her case and rebuttal to the opposing party's arguments;[6]
And high ranking Roman Catholic dignitaries worldwide can understand that because it's also written in Latin. The Vatican considered what to do and [7] and later made a decision to send O'Brien to an enclosed abbey for an unspecified period of time. The man subject to these proceedings apparently didn't and doesn't know enough to mount an effective defence. The accused has a right to be heard and needs enough information to prepare an effective defence or rebut charges. [8][6] We must take O'Brien's word for things that he really doesn't know the charges against him but the cardinal is an experienced member of the Church, his claim that he is denied natural justice is clearly credible and consistent with the way the church does things.

Natural justice applies to courts of law, it doesn't apply to church authorities. Punishments the Roman Catholic authorities can impose onto clergy are as severe as those that courts impose onto convicted criminals, it's frightening that there are no safeguards against abuse.

Why the secrecy?Edit

Why hasn't O'Brien been given details about the charges against him? If he knew more O'Brien could perhaps recognize his accusers, if he's guilty he probably remembers what he did and to which priest. After retiring he can't easily get nasty to his accusers himself but has friends and contacts who could make life very uncomfortable for them. Remember the four who complained can become victims of arbitrary orders or arbitrary justice from superiors as easily as Cardinal O'Brien himself did.

Is there any way of giving O'Brien the information he needs to mount an effective defence and also protecting the accusers? Secular organisations would try and find some way round all this but The Roman Catholic Church apparently thinks it's above ordinary rules like ensuring a fair trial.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien facing possible police investigation as it emerges church officials have 'told him to live as a hermit'
  2. O’Brien damaged Church’s credibility
  3. A New Pope Won't Save the Sinking Ship
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cardinal O'Brien's departure leaves a rudderless Church
  5. Cardinal Keith O'Brien 'very upset' about his resignation
  6. 6.0 6.1 natural justice
  7. Pope considering response to alleged 'inappropriate acts' by UK cardinal
  8. What are the rules of natural justice?

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