Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who has just died, was one of the signatories of the 1980s Just Defence Charter. He reaffirmed support for Just Defence and agreed to be placed on the Civilisation 3000 mailing list in 2009.

Ekklesia reported that on Saturday 16 April 2011 he urged the British Government to give up its “shameful” nuclear weapons programme.

“Do the right thing and give it up,” he declared at a demonstration outside the Royal Navy’s nuclear base in Faslane. Cardinal O’Brien told peace protesters: “Here at the gates of Faslane, there is no better place to say that it is not courageous of Britain to have these dreadful weapons of mass destruction. It is shameful to have them.”

He cited Pope Benedict XVI, who said:

“This point of view, that nuclear weapons have any place in a civilized society, is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament . . .In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”

Andrew McKie’s obituary, in the Herald, covered many aspects of the cardinal’s life, including that he was a keen cyclist and hillwalker, a convivial and popular figure.

After reading a truly disgraceful account of his life in the Murdoch Times, I attempted, with permission, to add Bruce Kent’s thoughts (below) as a comment. It was not accepted; a red notice said I was attempting to enter ‘malformed content’ – actually that description could have been applied to their obituary.


Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2018 18:30:17 GMT
Subject: Cardinal O’Brien

Dear Editor My friend, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, now faces a tribunal which none of us will escape.

Were I his Counsel for the Defence I would want it taken into account that very few bishops have had the courage and common sense to challenge, on moral grounds, the policies of the nuclear weapon establishment – as he did.

In his view the use of such weapons would mean mass murder and so-called deterrence means an ongoing willingness to do just that.

He was as clear on such matters in his time as is Pope Francis today.

That he failed to live up to the sexual standards to which he was committed, as he himself admitted, is both sad and damaging.

It is time now to acknowledge also the good he did and to pray that he may rest in peace.

Yours faithfully

Bruce Kent
Vice President






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