Cardinal: The Greatest Sin Is . . .

CardinalmurphyoconnorcrestCardinal 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

For the full story, click here.

30 thoughts on “Cardinal: The Greatest Sin Is . . .

  1. “The good Cardinal has also said in the past that atheists are “not fully human.”


    The good Cardinal be might be right. See Friedrich Nietzsche,”Human, All Too Human.” A little passage might help here for those who missed this seminal work:

    “For out of fear and need each religion is born, creeping into existence on the byways of reason. Perhaps at one time, when endangered by science, it included some fabricated philosophical theory in its system, so that it could be found there later; but this is a theologian’s trick from the period when a religion is already doubting itself. These tricks of theology, which of course were practiced very early on in Christianity, the religion of a scholarly age, steeped in philosophy, led to that superstition about a sensus allegoricus. Even more, they led to the habit of philosophers (particularly those half-men, the poetic philosophers and the philosophizing artists) of treating all feelings which they found in themselves as if they were essential to man in general, and thus to the habit of granting their own religious feelings a significant influence on the conceptual structure of their systems. Because philosophers often philosophized in traditional religious habits, or at least under the old inherited power of that “metaphysical need,” they arrived at dogmas that in fact greatly resembled Jewish or Christian or Indian religious doctrines, resembled them in the way children tend to resemble their mothers. In this case, however, the fathers weren’t sure of the maternity (as can happen) but rather, in the innocence of their amazement, told tales of a family resemblance of all religions and sciences. In reality there is no relationship nor friendship nor even enmity between religion and real science: they live on different stars. Any philosophy that allows a religious comet to trail off ablaze into the darkness of its last prospects makes suspicious everything about itself that it presents as science; presumably all this too is religion, although decked out as science.” (Sec. Three, 110)

    And then there is Section 2, 43 which seems written especially for our fine Churchman:

    “Cruel men as backward. We must think of men who are cruel today as stages of earlier cultures, which have been left over; in their case, the mountain range of humanity shows openly its deeper formations, which otherwise lie hidden. They are backward men whose brains, because of various possible accidents of heredity, have not yet developed much delicacy or versatility. They show us what we all were, and frighten us. But they themselves are as little responsible as a piece of granite for being granite. In our brain, too, there must be grooves and bends which correspond to that state of mind, just as there are said to be reminders of the fish state in the form of certain human organs. But these grooves and bends are no longer the bed in which the river of our feeling courses.”

  2. This is a perfect example of my idea of a proper Christian, and explains why I cheer at news like that reporting that Hindu Fundamentalists in India had barbecued a Christian missionary and his son a la Toyota Landcruiser.

    I look forward to the coming clash of civilizations in which the Islamofascists and the Christofascists kill each other in large numbers. Let them all die and go to meet their makers.

    I am an atheist, but I really wish that the devil did exist so that I could prey to him to send demons to torture this priest for several quadrillion eternities. If I believed God existed I would certainly be applying to enlist in the hosts of hell so as to participate in storming the gates of Heaven and tearing the wings off sanctimonious angels. God has a hide presuming that he has the right to forgive anyone or anything, what about asking whether we should forgive God for inflicting on us the curse of life in this world were misery is the norm for 95% of humans..

  3. Incidentally, does anyone know where one can obtain the correct official forms to request to resign from the human species?

  4. Professor Turley, no one should be surprised at the words of this sermon coming from the mouth of a Christian.

    Perhaps you are under the misapprehension that followers of Jesus of Nazareth are entitled to call themselves Christian. They do but they are not entitled to do so.

    If Jesus of Nazareth were here today
    he would be in Guantanamo Bay.

    Jesus of Nazareth was a decidedly pinko dissident who consorted with all the wrong people and undermined the stability and good order of society. It is right that he was nailed to a tree.

    In death he became transmogrified into Jesus Christ, the son of God himself, a figure full of supreme righteousness who would be welcome in the drawing rooms of American Presidents and Latin American dictators. Forget everything that can be traced to mouth of Jesus of Nazareth and hear the words after they have been filtered by devout followers of Jesus Christ.

  5. Mr. Moulton,

    I’m truly sorry for your pain.

    I don’t want it to be so, not for you or anybody else.

  6. Slartibartfast said “I am a atheist but that doesn’t mean that I there is nothing I believe in without proof. In fact, my career (I’m a scientist) is built around the belief that the scientific method is correct. While this belief has produced great results, I have no proof that it is unquestionably true that the universe is objective (the foundational principle of the scientific method).”

    Your statement is self contradicting. It is not ‘without proof’ if it continuously and predictably produces consistent results. It may not be absolute proof, but it is evidence. And I would point out that as a scientist you probably still entertain the possibility that it could be wrong, or an illusion created by other means. Which isn’t the same a faith either.

  7. I guess I’m never going to be a Catholic. This is not a club that I would ever want to belong to so I’m crossing it off my list permanently along with the Southern Baptist Convention, The Republican party, the NRA and a few others.

    I’m amused to find out that my atheism makes me “not fully human” and in my own defense can produce several people, at least, who might be considered fully human, who can confirm that I am completely human. Ann Coulter wrote a few years ago that because I am a Liberal Democrat I am also a traitor and that I am incomplete because I am a Jew.
    I had no idea that the hyper religious among us had the preternatural ability to assign who moves up and down the evolutionary scale. Is this something they learn in church? From their parents? From AM talk radio?

  8. Josh,

    While I concede your point that the scientific method is supported by a large body of evidence, I still feel objectivism (one could say the belief that the supernatural does not exist or does not influence natural (scientifically described) events) is unproven and unprovable. (In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that although I am a working scientist my Ph.D. is in mathematics so to me proof is an absolute – mathematical theorems are proved, scientific theories are not – there is a difference between the truth status of the Pythagorean Theorem and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the prior is unquestionably true and the latter has a mountain of evidence supporting it but could found incorrect if contradicted by new experiments) Furthermore, I stand by my broader point that we are rationalizing beings that all engage in belief of some sort of other.

  9. Gee, I thought this was a law blog, not a theological one.

    If you want to keep other people’s religion out of your life, stay out of theirs.

  10. Wayne. How about your lot keeping your religion off our laws then? Hm? Not willing to, eh? Jesus told you to create a theocracy, did he? Told you abortion was murder, did he? Said you had to screw with other’s health care because YOU have a belief, did he? Said you had to be tolerant as long as everyone agrees with you, eh?

    Uh huh. Just as I thought.





    No one is buying it. They might if the RCC and Fundies hadn’t spent the last 25 years trying to run rough shod over the system, but the cat’s out of the bag on the whole “Do As I Say, Not As I Do – Fake Christian” crowd.

    How about this? You “Our God First Because We Say So” morons stay out of politics and you can keep your tax exemption. Otherwise, pony up at tax time Jesus PACs or shut the hell up. And if you think He was upset at money changers in the temple, wait until He finds out you’re sheltering lobbyists and, in the case of the RCC and just as bad as lobbyists, sheltering pedophiles.

    The problem here isn’t the lawyers. We (meaning sane lawyers who understand the mechanism and importance of Separation of Church and State) WANT religion out of government. Problems arise when you “true believers” want to force your views upon others – others guaranteed Freedom of Religion even if that choice is not YOUR religion. So don’t start trouble and you won’t have any. Is that too complicated for you? Uh huh. Just as I thought.

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