There comes a point in the tsunami of abuse allegations about the Catholic clergy when you have to say, stop it right there. The latest cleric to have been accused of abuse is in fact dead: my friend, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who died last year. A conservative Italian blogger – and by conservative I mean not a particular fan of Pope Francis – Mario Tosatti, and the website LifeSite, have claimed that Francis quashed an investigation by the Cardinal Gerhard Muller, into allegations against Cardinal Cormac in 2013.
The allegations are from a British woman who claimed that, back in the 1960s when she was 13 or 14, she was abused by Fr Michael Hill, a serial predator, and by Cardinal Cormac. Now, Cardinal Cormac did, in 1985, allow Hill (a paedophile) to take on what he thought was a quasi-industrial chaplaincy at Gatwick Airport. Hill had gone to him seeking permission for a fresh start; he had broken down and wept in front of him and, being in the business of forgiveness, not to say, soft-hearted, Cormac gave him one more chance to rehabilitate himself. He duly abused a boy with learning difficulties.
The report on the website LifeSite, which is also hostile to Pope Francis, is useful not for the allegations it contains, which are frankly preposterous, as for illustrating the lengths to which the pope’s critics will go in order to discredit him; though certainly the revelations about the behaviour of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington have made subsequent allegations more plausible.
But to discern just what the site and its contributors may have against the late Cardinal, it’s worth quoting what it has to say about him. Consider this from the report:
‘Our source points out that, in his own career, Murphy-O’Connor always ‘stood very lightly with regard to the Church’s moral and doctrinal teaching.’ In one interview, Murphy-O’Connor made it clear that he is not opposed to non-practicing homosexuals being in the priesthood. He then said: ‘I think the Church must judge the people who are ordained on what kind of person they are, not on their sexuality. And I think that there will be men, probably a very small minority, who might have a homosexual orientation. Obviously, if they are practicing, this would exclude them [from ordination]. But I would not say that a person who has a homosexual tendency is necessarily debarred.’
He also rejected the claim of a connection between homosexuality and child abuse: ‘All I would say is that it does seem to be established that the question of child abuse has nothing directly at all to do with homosexuality.’
So, the Cardinal is being accused posthumously of personal complicity in child abuse for, it would seem, two reasons. One is by association to discredit his friend, Pope Francis. The other is to expose and condemn any tendency by any bishop to go soft on homosexuality – though on questions such as gay marriage, the Cardinal was entirely orthodox. To which one can only say: these people purport to be Christian?
What creeps they are.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.