Cardinal O’Brien revisited

You will remember our friend, Cardinal Keith O’Brien. He hit the news earlier this year for his comments on gay marriage, which were strongly condemned by gay rights activists and others on Twitter. Well, he’s back, with a different message this time:

Scotland’s most senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has accused the prime minister of acting immorally by favouring the rich ahead of ordinary citizens affected by the recession.

The cardinal also denounced David Cameron’s opposition to a “Robin Hood tax” on financial institutions.

And he urged Mr Cameron not just to help “your very rich colleagues”.

These views have received a rather less hostile response than his previous comments. But this leaves me glum. You will know that I believe that we should listen carefully to what people say, so that we can understand their true meaning.¬†And he’s entitled to his views. But I really can’t understand why the Twitterati expect us to listen to and respect the views of someone who only a month ago they were describing as an “idiot”.

There are two further problems:

  1. To the extent that we should ever be expected to listen to those in authority just because they are in authority, that can only extend to those subjects that they are authoritative about. I would suggest that Cardinal O’Brien, ex ante, should be considered authoritative about marriage, which has been important to the church for many centuries, but not about the economic impact of a financial transactions tax. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a contribution to make, but it does mean that we should take account off the fact that the Cardinal, on the subject of taxation, is playing away.
  2. One must wonder whether this is part of a revenge attack on the government, to punish them for their views on gay marriage. Perhaps Cardinal O’Brien wishes to apply pressure on the government in the hope that this might lead to concessions on the gay marriage issue. If that is the case, and it’s certainly plausible, then it would be pretty daft for those who criticised Cardinal O’Brien so heavily over gay marriage to support him now.