Murphy O’Connor must not be given a peerage

Tuesday 3 March 2009
popularity : 100%

The Times reports today that the Government is considering offering a peerage to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, who is soon to retire as leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. This will be the first time a Catholic cleric has sat in Parliament since the reformation.

The Times says that "The prospect of offering Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor a life peerage is understood to have been discussed during Gordon Brown’s meeting with the Pope at the Holy See last week."

Murphy O’Connor will bring the Vatican’s reactionary, homophobic, misogynistic and manipulative agenda right into the heart of our parliament.

But worse than that, Murphy O’Connor appears to be being rewarded when he should be on the grill being asked to explain his activities in relation to the foul child abusing priest ’Father’ Michael Hill.

In the 1980s Murphy O’Connor was the bishop of Arundel and Brighton. Although he was aware that one of his priests — Michael Hill — was a dangerous paedophile he did nothing to prevent his access to children. When the abuse came to light, Murphy O’Connor helped Hill to move from one parish to another, where his activities continued. Murphy O’Connor ignored three warnings that Hill was likely to offend. Finally, Hill was moved to a place where he could do most harm, with the least chance of discovery – as a chaplain at Gatwick airport. It was there that he abused even more defenceless children. The police eventually brought his reign of terror to an end, but not before this monster had ruined the lives of countless children and young people, some of them suffering from disabilities.

Not only was there abuse on a massive scale, of which the Cardinal was aware, money was paid by the Roman Catholic Church to victims in his diocese to hush the matter up. I am not aware of any apology or explanation for this by the Cardinal.

All this could have been prevented if the Cardinal had not tried to sweep it under the carpet.

There were strong suspicions that other priests in the Arundel and Brighton area had also been involved in child abuse while under the wing of Murphy O’Connor, but for some reason the investigation into the Cardinal’s culpability came to an abrupt halt. The Times reports are very disturbing.

The BBC, which was investigating the matter , inexplicably dropped the story and the police enquiry fizzled out when the Catholic Church accused the media of "persecuting" Murphy O’Connor.

The victims of the crimes committed under the leadership of this man, who is now about to be given privileged access to our lawmaking body, certainly don’t think he was persecuted. They think that the real crime is that he got off scot-free.

Murphy O’Connor’s defence is that "the decisions he made at that time were not irresponsible and that there was a genuine ignorance among bishops, priests, and society at large about the compulsive nature of child abuse". For a bishop of an organisation purporting to be a moral authority to claim to be ignorant of something everyone else knew can only be stupidity and / or dishonesty of a stunning degree. Neither commend him for a seat in the Lords.

The President has written to the Prime Minister in terms similar to the above. Please write to your MP and complain about this proposal and suggest they ask a Parliamentary Question. Murphy O’Connor must not be rewarded for these unpardonable actions with a seat in the House of Lords.

NSS Newsline - 27 février 2009

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