During his eight year as Pope, Benedict XVI has had to face numerous claims about sexual abuse in the clergy. Now that he has announced his retirement, the Italian press claim that there is a secret dossier about a “gay network” within the church. Of course, the Vatican denies the existence of this and says that the media is trying to influence the decision of the cardinals when the conclave meets to elect a new pope.
That may or may not be true but what will cause problems for the church are the reports by three priests and one former priest claiming inappropriate behaviour by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain. The statements which detail “concerns” going back over 30 years have been sent to Antonio Mennini, the papal nuncio.
The four say they have acted now because they are troubled by the idea that the conclave will not be “clean” if Cardinal O’Brien takes part. However, according to canon law, no cardinal who is eligible to vote can be prevented from doing so.
I assume that Cardinal O’Brien took part in the conclave that elected the Cardinal Ratzinger so, I wonder, why were these concerns not raised then? The four say that they do not expect the church to take steps to prevent O’Brien from assuming his rights, so what are they going to gain from making these disclosures now?