I feel immensely disquieted by the Bishop Conry business. Not because of his sins. We are all sinners, so who am I to throw stones at others?
No; it is his statements, as given in that most public of fora, the Press, that disturb me.
True, he has uttered some words of regret and of acknowledgement that he did wrong. But …
“In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief.” This is what I find hardest: his … apparent … chilling serenity with regard to having lived for years, as he appears to admit (I pray God that I may be misunderstanding his words), in a state of unrepented mortal sin and, in that state, having repeatedly approached and confected the Sacraments; perhaps even having accepted Episcopal Consecration while aware of an ineradicable propensity for womanising (I remember being shown a published account as long ago as 2002 of his alleged conduct just before his Consecration).
“I have been careful not to make sexual morality a priority”. This is rather as if an errant banker were to say “At least I am not a hypocrite: I have never made public statements about the importance of financial probity.”
And it is sometimes suggested that a de facto and totally unintended result of Vatican II was a loss in many quarters of any dread of Sin and of any consciousness of the absolute need for Grace. Bishop Conry, if his words do truly manifest the man, would be a perfect illustration of that.
A symbol … indeed, a victim … of his times? A weak and self-obsessed man, poorly formed at seminary; a product of that facile anthropological optimism which characterised the Church in and after the 1960s; a man who deserves our prayerful sympathy rather than a judgement which it is most certainly not ours to pass?
I am praying for a dread of sin and fear of the living God to permeate the synod.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.