Dear Cardinal O’Brien
My first letter was extremely harsh. Well to be fair you deserved that harshness. You were utilising a position of power to denigrate and deny the basic right of happiness to a group of people based on prejudices created by a 2000 year old book.
There are Gay Priests. There have to be some by dint of statistics and chance. These men (and women – let us not forget lesbian nuns) live in fear and hatred of what they are. In a religion powered by guilt and shame these are feelings that drive these people to hate what they are. The Church has a lot of confused men grappling with their sexuality. I feel you are one such person. Your failure lead to loathing which spilt over into the public sphere. The damage you have done is “irreparable”. People have been hurt and people have had their minds influenced by you. And for that you must feel sorry. Let us assume you didn’t break any laws. That you didn’t molest children. That you didn’t force anyone into having sex with you. Let us assume that the statements we have seen are the limit and that all you have done is hit on young adults. This is a tragic story for a variety of reasons ranging from your complicit aid in the demonisation of homosexuals to your own personal self loathing.
The tragedy is not because of any god but because of Church doctrine. It’s because you have harmed people either directly or indirectly and most of all it is because you harmed yourself..
I haven’t seen any major accusations of illegal behaviour. So far all we have heard about your transgression is “drunken fumbling”. You did what many gay men did. You tried to chat up someone in your own drunken and fumbling way. I suspect Catholic Church doesn’t teach you how to flirt with people in a sensible way. Even the sworn statement that I had seen was more about your hypocrisy in your stance against the GLBT rather than anything untoward. The violation was through hypocrisy and by your abuse of power over consenting adults. However weird and awkward that may be the fact that you didn’t do what many priests have done and abuse their power to force those under their care into sex is laudable. Your “misbehaviour” was only misbehaviour in line with Catholic Theology. Which makes you a gigantic hypocrite.
It also makes you human and understandable. Your upbringing made you hate what you are. It made you wrestle constantly with the notion that the feelings you have are “wrong”. You may still think that way but what you feel is natural. You spent your entire life fighting against this and some journalist just exposed you. You have had everything going for you swept away.
The Church lied to you. You are fine, you are normal and from the description of your actions? You are gay. Your hatred at homosexuals may have it’s basis in the sort of self loathing that the Church flogs. In order to fight your perceived failings you took it upon yourself to fight the failings of others.
What you experience is not a failing, it is just something you are. No different from being brown or left-handed or myopic.
For 75 years you have lived a lie. If you haven’t abused anyone and merely wrestled with your emotions and feelings pertaining to be gay then all you have done is lived a lie. And that’s a crime that you have to square not with “a god” but with yourself. The person who you wronged the most was Keith O’Brien.
The only advice I can give you is this. Don’t live the rest of your life as a recluse, hiding from the world. Your mistake is not that you hated gays, but that you hated yourself. There is real human forgiveness and many gay men went through what you did. Many of them hate what they are and many of them lived with such hatred and in such fear.
You did too, but that part is over. Be proud of what you are. The lie can stop now. You haven’t shamed the Catholic Church you fool! The Church shamed you by flogging a vile spiel of hatred and self loathing. You may seek forgiveness but what you should be seeking is acceptance.
And as of now you may be feeling alone and scared and bullied by the people who once called you friends. You may have lost everything you thought was important. But what you have gained is beyond price.
You have gained freedom to be the person you really are. And no Church or gods or popes can change that. You know what you are and you know now that it isn’t wrong to be Gay.
We all die. And honestly? I am not kidding when I say this but 75 is pretty damn old. There isn’t much time on this planet. So don’t waste it wallowing in the pity and self loathing that is the hallmark of Catholicism.
Go find love, go find happiness and go be gay (if you are). It is not too late to be happy. Find happiness, it is what we all want in our life. The Church has no power over you, you can leave it if you wish. In fact it has already abandoned you to a life as a pariah. Others have wrestled with the same feelings that you have. Many still wrestle with those feelings. You may think that the GLBT community hates you, but it can understand genuine contrition and you have to understand that you have caused a lot of pain to those who are of the GLBT. But I am willing to put that down to your church. If you truly have not broken any laws apart from the law of the church, then I have only one real message to you.
Leave it and be free.
Avicenna the Last