Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the departing Archbishop of Westminster, had a few things to say about sin this week in welcoming his replacement. It turns out that the greatest sin is not clergy child abuse, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or the like. The greatest sin? Atheism.
Not only did the Cardinal identify atheism as the greatest sin but blamed atheism for past wars — ignoring of course that more people have been killed in the name of God than any other cause. The good Cardinal has also said in the past that atheists are “not fully human.”
Described as “the greatest of evils,” the cleric used the two-hour Mass to denounced those evil people who do not subscribe to a divine faith.
But furious reaction to comments that Archbishop Nichols had made about child abuse in Ireland threatened to cast a shadow over the installation. Referring to the report published on Wednesday that exposed decades of child abuse by Catholic priests and nuns in Ireland, the Archbishop had said that it took courage for religious orders and clergy to “face the facts from their past”. He also warned that the report threatened to overshadow the good done by the religious orders, chiefly the Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy.
What is most crucial is the prayer that we express every day in the Our Father, when we say ‘deliver us from evil’. The evil we ask to be delivered from is not essentially the evil of sin, though that is clear, but in the mind of Jesus it is more importantly a loss of faith. For Jesus, the inability to believe in God and to live by faith is the greatest of evils.” It is always good to see cleric speaking for Jesus in denouncing other humans. What does it say about God that he is most aggrieved by a lack of faith rather than murder and other offenses. This would put atheists lower in God’s book than the 9-11 hijackers or Al Qaeda who professed total devotion to the Almighty.
This unbelievable sermon occurred only days after Ireland’s Child Abuse Commission released its report showing that “thousands” of children had been abused by priests and lay persons at institutions of disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children. It also comes the week that a new book by Archbishop Weakland explained that he and others did not know sex with children was a crime or that it was really harmful to children.
Ultimately, the priorities of the Cardinal seem a bit twisted and frankly unChristian:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13
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