That was then, this is now

The pope is not a modernist, nor is he any kind of pluralist. He is not one to think that morality improves over time.

When he was crowned Pope nearly five years ago, Benedict promised to clean up the Church. He would not be a showman Pope like John Paul II, he would not flog himself around the world addressing huge stadiums. The Church under his guidance would not have expansiveness as its goal, but purification.

He had a reformist phase in his youth, but he got over it.

…around 1968, he rejected all that and became a counter-revolutionary warrior, dedicated to liberating the Church from trendy nonsense and restoring the purity which he saw the reform movement as having polluted. As such, his ardour has never flagged.

But then…What is Sean Brady’s explanation for the actions he is now apologizing for?

Delivering his St Patrick’s Day mass on Wednesday, Cardinal Brady said: “This week a painful episode from my own past has come before me. I have listened to reaction from people to my role in events 35 years ago. I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologise to you with all my heart. I also apologise to all those who feel I have let them down. Looking back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in.”

He’s cagy, he does a classic guy apology (I’m sorry you were offended), but he does in the end admit that he did bad things. Well why did he do them? Because he wanted to? Or because at the time he didn’t get how bad they were?

The latter seems to be the view of the people who still turn up at Armagh cathedral.

The applause that rippled through Armagh’s vast St Patrick’s Cathedral as Dr Séan Brady entered this morning stated in the clearest terms exactly what his parishioners think of their cardinal…Marie Ryan said to condemn him for failing to alert the authorities about notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth 35 years ago was to judge him using today’s standards. “It was a different era back then and a lot of things happened that shouldn’t,” she said.

Ah. It was a different era back then. Times change, people change, views on morality change.

But then – if times change, and views on morality change, and people can look back on their pasts and feel ashamed of things they did many years ago, then –

Then why is the Catholic church so god damn confident that it is right to go on discriminating against gays?

Why does it not occur to the Catholic church that views on the morality of discriminating against people for bad stupid empty reasons have changed, and that it is entirely possible that they have changed for the better, and that the Catholic church ought not to preen itself on insisting on ‘church teachings’ when to other people those teachings are not just wrong but evil?

The church needs to get it. The church needs to realize that it has no moral high ground and no monopoly on moral wisdom; that it is in fact worse than many secular institutions, not better; that it has every reason to be very very humble, and to err on the side of generosity rather than purity. It’s not going to, of course, but it needs to.

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