Reader comments · Top civil rights lawyer says she feels ‘huge compassion’ for Cardinal Keith O’Brien · PinkNews

Enter your email address to receive our daily LGBT news roundup

You're free to unsubscribe at any time.


Top civil rights lawyer says she feels ‘huge compassion’ for Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Post your comment

Comments on this article are now closed.

Reader comments

  1. Common sense 6 Mar 2013, 1:42am

    I have always admired Helena Kennedy and sure I do have some small sympathy for what the arch hypocrite O’Brien is goig through at the moment. But where is the sympathy for his victims and what they are going through?

    1. Dave North 6 Mar 2013, 1:54am

      And all the other tens of thousands of LGBT people made too feel like shit by this mans words.

      1. We agree with that ! How many LGBT people have been hurt by his words and made to feel unwanted in their neighbourhoods.

    2. She said she feels sad “for him and for his victims.” Personally, I’d tweak those sympathy scales maybe just a little bit, eh Ms Kennedy?

      1. Yes, Mrs. Kennedy is making sure she doesn’t blot her heavenly copy-book and bugger up her relationship with her Catholic superiors.

        Someone above said they have admired her? ADMIRED a woman who is obviously had the benefit of education but who has freely chosen, as an adult, to believe in the existence of angels, ghosts, spirits, pixies, elves, gods, and all things supernatural? Come ON!

        Mrs. Kennedy is simply another deluded member of the Catholic cult. Of course she’s going to support the head honchos of her cult!

        1. It’s all very well dismissing her Catholicism Eddy, but Baroness Kennedy has an excellent record in the field of human rights, not least speaking in the Lords in favour of civil partnerships. I wouldn’t dismiss her altogether.

  2. Renee Slater 6 Mar 2013, 2:03am

    As much as I love Baroness Kennedy’s amazing civil right’s work.. She seems to forget the people the Cardinal allegedly abused.. Her fight against political power over oppressed people should at least have suggested sympathy for the priests allegedly abused also..!!

    1. Completely agree with you there, Renee.

    2. Harlequin 6 Mar 2013, 3:30pm

      “… I feel very sad for him and for his victims.”

  3. I am trying … trying … trying … no, sorry, no compassion for the homophobic, misogynistic, hate-filled, hypocritical sexual offender.

  4. On the other hand 6 Mar 2013, 2:12am

    She clearly has a much bigger heart than he does.

  5. Baroness Kennedy’s compassion does not appear to include the LGBT population, who are also victims of Cardinal O’Brien. His viciously homophobic outbursts caused hurt and anger and although he apologised to “those he offended”, the vagueness in his apology does not go anywhere far enough to address the magnitude of his attacks. From what she has said in her statement, Baroness Kennedy does not appear to understand that which indicates that she’s not very compassionate at all.

    It is noticeable that leading Scottish figures, e.g. Alex Salmond, Ruth Davidson and now Baroness Kennedy, appear to have a lot of respect and concern for the disgraced Cardinal. Had the victims of his sexual advances been female and the victims of his hate speech been any other minority section of the population, I seriously doubt that there would be anyone willing to defend him or feel compassion for him. That suggests an underlying bigotry amongst the Scottish establishment against the LGBT community.

    1. An excellent comment, James! Exactly what I think too, but I doubt I could have expressed it as well as you have!

      1. Oh thanks Bennie!

        1. You’re very welcome, James! I just felt your comment really hit the nail on the head, particularly the part about there being underlying bigotry amongst the Scottish establishment.

          Even politicians who are normally in favour of gay equality often show their true colours when push comes to shove and they side with religion over gay equality, or they support gay equality but only when that equality legislation won’t apply to religions.

          I long to see the day when a politcian stands up unequivocally for gay equality and doesn’t care what religions think of it or how churches will be affected by equality legislation! Religions have had a free pass on gay equality for far too long and it’s about time it’s stopped!

    2. one does wonder though if he had been making unwanted advances to women it probably wouldn’t be such a sad and pathetic story the fact is that Keith O’Brian was more than likely told from a very young age that to be gay was a terrible sin that would make god turn his back on him, that the only way for him to be a good person is to live a life of celibacy. and what better job to be celibate and a good person? become a priest. i have sympathy for him, he has wasted his life in a state of self hating torture projecting his anguish in the form of disgust at the openly gay people in our society who live their lives being true to them selves. whilst he was surrounded by simmerlaley self hating old men who propagate this visceios circle of unhappiness. these people deserve sympathy and the most Christian thing of all forgiveness, but until they stop projecting their self hate on to others and infecting a new generation with this twisted self loathing they do not deserve respect carte blanc

      1. NO! I was told the same thing when I was a child. And many of the people posting here were told the same thing too. And millions of others were told the same thing. But we took responsibility to judge the matter for ourselves. O’Brien had every opportunity to do the same. He decided he wanted to have his cake and eat it too: to subscribe to the gobbledegook of Catholicism and to enjoy homosexual sex at the same time! That’s what O’Brien decided to do.

        I have no sympathy with him.

        Read my other posts elsewhere in which I related my own interaction with Catholic priests who have told me of their many temptations to ditch the whole thing but they decided to stick with it because “it’s a nice and cushy life!”

      2. I understand what you’re saying – that he was drawn into his profession due to pressures and that he’s been a prisoner because of that. However, he would obviously have been aware of his homosexuality and because of that and his personal circumstances he should have shown compassion towards the LGBT population – surely that would have been the ‘christian’ thing to do. Instead he chose (and I emphasise the word ‘chose’) to set out to hurt and anger as many gay people as he could by having his viciously homophobic outbursts. There was no compassion in that, only hate. Surely that malicious hate deserves criticism from the establishment, yet there appears to be nobody at the highest levels willing to criticism him.

  6. Christopher Hobe Morrison 6 Mar 2013, 4:16am

    I have no sympathy whatsoever for this hypocritical liar.

  7. Cardinal O’Brien has given a brief statement and then scarpered out of Scotland. We should be suspicious not compassionate. How can we be compassionate with someone who refuses to answer questions from the public.

    We are told that 50% of catholic priests are gay. They aren’t so tortured to come out with the same damaging statements as O’Brien did. Why was he so hypocritical? At the moment we don’t even know if he was celibate. The news in the media is that many priests (gay and straight) are not celibate , it’s only a facade.

    Being compassionate at this time is not appropriate until we get more info on what O’Brien has done and it’s made public (ie not a cover up job by an overseas authority). We don’t know how many very young priests in his charge he has sexually harassed, we don’t know whether a person like him overlocked the dark secrets of other priests in sexual abuse cases and in 1980 gay sex in Scotland with 20 yr olds was illegal

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 6:06pm

      There are rumours he’s been told to live the life of a hermit accordgint to some catholic sources. Where, I do not know but I suspect it might be south of the border.

  8. Kerry Hollowell 6 Mar 2013, 6:02am

    does she feel sorry for all the hurt and damage the cardinal has done to the gay community?

  9. Unbelievable. Being sexually frustrated doesn’t give him an excuse to sexually abuse people.

  10. The disgraced Cardinal Keith O’Brien is a failure as a priest, citizen and human being! I don’t feel sorry for the vile and utterly selfish old troll! He has made so many LGBT people in the UK and the rest of the world (yes, his toxic words as Cardinal have influence around the world) feel unworthy and unacceptable.

    This man showed no Christian love, compassion and charity to the LGBT community! Thank god I’m not a Christian! I say throw him in the pit where he belongs!

    1. Philip Breen 6 Mar 2013, 7:09am

      I do feel sorry for him though he brought his outing on himself by his vicious comments about gays. The reason to feel sorry for him is because he might feel he has absolutely nothing to live for and, if, in a moment of intense depression he did something stupid, I, for one, would feel there were no winners. It is a genuine tragedy that sufferings inflicted on homosexuals have caused suicides. I have even known good priests who have done so because of perceived shame. It is unlikely the RCC will learn from this episode institutionally, but, maybe, in the UK, both in the RCC & beyond, anyone affected by this event could try to be generous & kind.

      1. barriejohn 6 Mar 2013, 7:36am

        What is a “good priest”, may I ask? They ALL continue to support these vile organizations which enable predatory perverts to continue their vile practices with impunity, Only yesterday we were told of an Anglican priest who was found guilty of spying on girls and women, yet he was still only “suspended” from his duties. As others said at the time, where else would people manifestly guilty of such crimes be indulged in this disgraceful way? No wonder they all think that they are untouchable!

        1. All of these “sacrosanct” churches and cults must be held to account by an entirely secular state. We need to cut the Church of England loose so it holds no more sway in this land than any other nonsensical cult, and all of them need to be constantly monitored by secular authorities. They should be entitled to believe in their fantasies only in so far as those fantasies do not disrespect the laws of our land(s).

      2. Philip Breen I hereby absolve you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of all or any guilt resulting from that vicious, cunning, and sneaky disgraced ex-cardinal deciding, entirely by his own free will, to finish himself off!

        Consider the quality of mercy! “Mercy” is a virtue shown to those who truly deserve it. You HAVE TO draw the line. You don’t just try to earn medals by dishing out “mercy” to every wrong-doer! If we did, we would have no prisons, no community service, no system of punishment in society! O’Brient has done IMMENSE psychological harm to young developing girls and boys and teenagers, youngsters working out their sexual identity. He has instilled guilt and shame.

        That woman on the BBC News the other night who when told O’Brien had admitted having gay sex: she said, “I don’t believe it! It’s not true!” She may well have children. She’s telling her kids it’s a lie, that homosexuality is vile and disgusting and O’Brien never did it! See?

  11. This is why chid abuse was allowed to go unchecked for many years – so many people are coming forward saying how sorry they are for the cardinal and we should forgive him – never heard so much rubbish in all my life he was a vile old queen at best –

  12. barriejohn 6 Mar 2013, 7:37am

    Has she lost her marbles?

  13. Baroness, don’t forget that he CHOSE to be an ambitious priest, climbing his way up the hierarchy while molesting vulnerable young men. No one forced him into celibacy. His vile statements about Gay people particularly affected the lives of Gay Catholics- people supposedly in his care. He’s a monster and any sympathy for him, now retired in luxury, is misplaced and ignorant.

  14. Har Davids 6 Mar 2013, 7:40am

    This is nonsense! We’re talking about a man who’s had plenty of time on his hands to think about his life and actions, while telling others to do as he said. At the same time he was helping child-abusers to get away with their crimes against children. It’s al very christian, but this woman needs to have her head examined.

  15. Chester66 6 Mar 2013, 7:57am

    It reads like she is saying it due to the idea of him being celibate as opposed to him being an abusive hypocritical power-grabbing self-hating homophobe who hurt many many people with his hate preaching, it’s stupid that so many condemn Islam for hate-preachers yet ignore and protect the Catholics and Christians who are guilty of doing it, the people he hurt should be the ones that she has sympathy for

  16. He made his bed and now he must lie in it.

  17. This man chose to use the vilest of language (and who knows what else) in a deliberate attempt to influence those in power to deny equality to a section of society (a section, ironically, to which it appears he belongs, though he might not wish it).

    We need to look at why he did that more than why he ‘subcomed’ to pleasures of the flesh.

  18. I think we can safely say Ms Kennedy’s moal compass has gone a bit off course on this one.

    She may consider herself a “bad catholic”, but on this issue the moral confusion of Catholicism is very much in her head.

    1. *moral. Oooops

  19. How can one feel huge compassion? The man exuded contempt, his rhetoric was vitriolic and lacking compassion for his fellow human kind.

    He was caught out in his duplicitous homophobic intolerance. If he is now a victim of conscience, or intolerance, few among the LGBT he constantly berated and victimized are unlikely to be moved by his justified “embarrassing” situation or share her huge compassion.

  20. I have changed my mind on this one about 50 times this week already.
    I can see both sides of the argument.
    He was most likely brought up Catholic several decades ago in a very strict Catholic environment for several years before he was sexually aware.
    So when he discovered he liked boys more than girls he retreated to the priesthood for reasons which are obvious… no awkward questions.
    The problem he has is that the deeper he bought into that lie, the more he started to act out sexually.
    Then eventually he started to chuck other gay people under the bus either to further his career, to maintain the charade, self-loathing or sour grapes.
    This is the point at which my sympathy wavers. I can partly understand why he did it, but there again as the saying goes ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’
    He still chose to chuck the rest of us under the bus, to what extent his hand was forced, maybe we’ll never know. But it does smack of hypocrisy.

    1. Well described, Flapjack. As you say, one minute he was reaching forward to grope a young seminarian in his power who felt obliged not to object, and the next minute he was putting on his glad-rags to parade like Jesus down the aisle of his cathedral. We ALL know when we are lying and deceiving.

      O’Brien’s only excuse is to plead mental insanity, that he DIDN’T know that he was saying one thing but doing another!

  21. Another otherwise sane person, brainwashed by the cult.

    Her sympathy is totally misplaced. I don’t recall her speaking out when he was defaming us all.

  22. “I’ve hidden and suppressed my nature all my life because society and religion didn’t agree with it. If society doesn’t care and religion doesn’t matter, that makes my sacrifice (by which I have come to define my entire existence) worthless. Therefore, you must not have marriage equality.”

    Suddenly it all makes a lot of sense. It’s a perfectly understandable reason for how he acted. But reasons are not excuses, and nothing excuses his behaviour. He’s a loathsome individual and will get no sympathy from me.

  23. I think Baroness Kennedy’s “compassion” for the cardinal’s sex life will make many people puke, including Keith O’Brien.

    The truth is, whatever else Keith O’Brien was, he was a big, virile, full blooded man who did what come completely natural to him. I doubt celibacy featured much, or if at all, in big Keith life. I imagine there are many who to could testify to that.

  24. I can’t help but feel the the Baroness comments are a bit misguided.

    She seems to be trying to make an argument against the practice of celibacy. But using her line of logic is only half the story.

    Even if O’Brien decided not to become a priest and accept the celibate life – the belief system O’Brien subscribes to would torment him from acting out on his apparent same sex attraction. Hence the Baronesses argument against celebacy become moot in O’Brien’s case.

  25. People only queue up to show how sorry they feel for this cretin because they want to remain in good standing with O’Brien’s friends in the media. Plus there is an unconscious tendency in Britain’s elites, owing to our monarchy, to cynically fawn over public figures with any title of nobility or distinction. It’s compulsory to swoon when they hear the word ‘Sir’, ‘Her Maj’ or ‘Archbishop’.

    If your average teacher had been exposed for serial rape by the press, maybe there would actually be some sympathy shown toward the victims rather than the rapist, but who knows.

  26. Sorry to be pedantic, but O’Brien was the Archbishop of St. Andrews & Edinburgh, not Glasgow (where Helena Kennedy was raised as a catholic) as the article states.

  27. Human rights lawyer?

    Is there such a thing?

    Right oh, reminds me of Cherrie Blair, aka Human Rights Lawyer who defended one of the Rail Companies in the case taken by lesbian couple who had been denied having their partnership recognised and were refused concessionary travel.

    Mrs Blair, Human Rights Lawyer, defended the corporate rail company.

    And here we have Baroness Kennedy defending O Brien and making him out to be the victim.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory that his such a thing as a ‘human rights lawyer’ as one persons rights almost always at the expense of another.

    I’m sure Baroness Kennedy would also defend the Catholic Church’s right to practice sexual apartheid and actively encourage it’s followers to see gay couples as less equal to their Heterosexual counterparts.

    To me there is no such thing as a human rights lawyer and really if this lady wanted to do some good she shut up, kneel quietly and remember the many victims of the Catholic Church worldwide.

    1. Sorry dude, you’ve really got the Cherie thing farce about ace there …

      1. I stand corrected.

    2. Good point, Paul, re. claiming for oneself moral superiority by encouraging the use of or even appending the title of “Human Rights Lawyer”. Every decision in life is moral. Every decision in life is political to some extent. Every lawyer deals with human beings and thereby with their rights.

      It’s all about pecking order, isn’t it. And the Catholic Church is really hot on pecking order and hierarchy. A woman, like this Ms. Kennedy, can’t get far up the Church’s hierarchical ladder unless she traipses around in the wake of its male-only clerics and seeks to ingratiate herself with them.

      Right now the vast majority of the Catholic priests and bishops of Britain are also feeling very sorry for the ex-cardinal. It’s the “thing to do”. And Ms. Kennedy is eager to be in there with them. She may well have already met with many of them, to tell them of her unerring support, along with other Ladies who Arse-Lick for Lunch!

  28. I too have followed Barroness K QC’s glittering career from her days as a firebrand lawyer who argued for the abolition of the House of Lords and the rank of Queen’s Counsel. She’s utterly self-regarding and is taken, and takes herself, rather more seriously than she merits. I speak from my perspective as a Labour Party member and a lawyer. In fairness to her she does express sympathy for the Cardinal’s victims and we don’t seem to have the complete text but frankly this is self-serving ranks closing. He caused far more damage to his indirect victims than either he or his defenders seem prepared to acknowledge. Who are those indirect victims? Every member of our community who heard him and felt that horrible chilling fear deep inside. We know exactly what the effects of that were on all of us and we know what it’s like to be regarded as utterly worthless
    and vile. Baroness K QC seems to have no idea and the Cardinal certainly doesn’t.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 1:47pm

      Thoroughly agree, Michael, well said!

  29. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 12:55pm

    Until O’Brien personally apologises to the victims and by extension the LGBT community, I won’t have one ounce of sympathy for him. He knew exactly what he was doing knowing that in the eyes of his cult, it was wrong. Yet, he carried on spewing hatred and fomenting homophobia. His description of equal marriage as ‘grotesque’ was the last straw as far as I’m concerned. I can only interpret that to mean that not only does it refer to equal marriage but to our loving, committed relationships.

    I find it interesting that after O’Brien said he supported married clergy, Baroness Kennedy now comes forward to say that celibacy in unnatural and torture. Would she have said it publicly had O’Brien not mentioned married clergy? I think not.

    I respect her civil rights work but I don’t respect her ‘huge compassion’ for someone who showed us absolutely none, if anything quite to the contrary. I think she owes us an apology. I’m quite offended by it.

    1. Robert, according to her Wikipedia page, Kennedy still attends Mass and professes that her Catholicism “remains very much part of who I am”. Perhaps that faithfulness, in addition to her position as a senior lawyer and leader of many public bodies over the years, has clouded her judgement as she appears somewhat detached from reality in being only too willing to show ‘compassion’ to O’Brien, whilst not indicating a ‘compassion’ for those at the receiving end of his homophobic outbursts. It’s repugnant for high-ranking figures to defend a homophobe, whether the homophobe is gay or straight. They would not defend a racist or a misogynist and there is no excuse in this day and age to defend a homophobe. They would probably argue that they are not defending him, only showing compassion towards him, but by publicly declaring their ‘compassion’ for O’Brien it gives the impression that his behaviour is not quite as serious as it is. That ultimately legitimises homophobia.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 6:02pm

        Doesn’t surprise me one bit, James. Yet she’s never spoken out against the church’s treatment of women and female clergy, not that I know of. She’s part of the problem, not taking a stand. Catholic women do precious little to force their cult to adapt to modern 21st century living. They are the ones who can bring about change, more than men.

  30. Bill Cameron 6 Mar 2013, 5:01pm

    I don’t like her leftie politics, but I have always respected her as intellectually honest, at least until now.

    She says she has sympathy for O’Brien and his victims. Is she talking only about the 5 priests (so far) who have reported him to the Vatican, or is she referring to the whole LGBT community that this old monster has so viciously maligned over many years? Like others here, I think Dame Kennedy’s moral compass is somewhat defective on this issue – like many other Catholics unfortunately.

    Of course, it’s difficult to see what action the police can legitimately take against O’Brien because the priests were adults at the time of the molestations and have so far, unless I have missed this, not reported the matter to the police, merely to the Church authorities who, as we all know, will conduct an internal inquiry and then quietly bury the whole matter.

  31. Jim middle tn 6 Mar 2013, 5:04pm

    the way i see it he wanted to have sex with men .. he knew the church didnt approve .. he used his position to make advances on his fellow priest . so why didnt he leave the church .. and live a open and honest life .. I will tell you why
    its good to be a Cardinal …. you live as we say here in the USA high on the hog .. you dont have to do much including worrying about your bills a roof over your head or food to eat
    its all provided for you ..
    i dont feel sorry for him .but i do feel sorry for his victims I dont know Ms kennedy but I would think as a “civil rights advocate” would have major issues with the catholic church
    especially as she is a woman
    catholic woman have been led down a path of submissive to men .. and that is what keeps the church alive ..if the women of the church would stand up and demand change ..and if no change happened leave the church the church would die

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 6:09pm

      You raise a very good point Women I think are key in bringing about change. Baroness Kennedy though I don’t think is one of them. Perhaps if one of her children or relatives had been molested, she might take a different attitude.

  32. A woman (well-meaning) without a CLUE about real life:

    Here’s a little musical
    “Bring in the Clowns” dedicated to the Papal “election” and the replacement of O’Brien:

    DOES the Scottish Government ACTUALLY promote “Equality”? I doubt it: They can’t be bothered to respond to emails. The Cardinal (Sin), who now seems to have fled his “Coming out balls” and legged it to WHERE??? (One published source says he’s in a luxury villa in Tuscany owned by the Catholic Church; another says he’s in a poverty terraced “safe house” in downtown Liverpool with fellow queer haters.

    I wonder to what extent the Scottish Government welcomes all this Catholic interference in politics. Salmond added his hatred of queers by bitching Stonewall’s award of “Bigot”. Now, phone them emaill them they don’t wanna know. Like the man in the frock, they are in hiding. SAD

  33. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 6:14pm

    I’ve noticed that Tartaglia, Nichols, Smith et al haven’t exactly been charitable or compassionate towards O’Brien, not that I really care, but they do appear to be distancing themselves from him. I suspect this has more to do with they’re being targeted and subject to closer scrutiny. I also suspect all priests have been told to keep their mouths shut or suffer the consequences. I can only imagine some in fact many will be quaking in their shoes not know if any more are going to be outed. I only wish that would happen.

    They’ll all lie low until they think the coast is clear, then resort to their usual gay bashing once a new pope is elected and the Vatican investigation of O’Brien has begun.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 6 Mar 2013, 6:14pm

      …not knowing….

  34. “I feel very sad for him and for his victims.” is what the Baroness also said.

  35. Carl ROwlands 6 Mar 2013, 6:36pm

    Perhaps he did want a sex life, he didn’t want any one else to have one!

  36. O’Brien forced himself on his victims using his authority and power over them, forcing one to leave his profession and others to live in fear. He’s not actually confessed to his crimes explicitly. For being found out as a massive hypocrite and causing huge damage to the Catholic Church, I feel enormous gratitude to O’Brien. Compassion?…not so much…

  37. SilenceIsGolden 7 Mar 2013, 12:38am

    Forget everything else: Is she seriously wearing a REAL fur hat???

  38. Whilst not agreeing the sentiments I could have held some respect if he had used his own “weakness” (as he would call it) as a means to show why he and his followers should try to resist temptation. However his message, to his misguided followers, was that its OK to be gay just so long as you are not open and honest about it!

These comments are un-moderated and do not necessarily represent the views of PinkNews. If you believe that a comment is inappropriate or libellous, please contact us.