The British scandal over the Westminster archdiocese’s pro-life spokesman is heating up. (See my previous post on this.)
A group of bishops is telling Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor that he should fire Austin Ivereigh following allegations that Ivereigh is guilty of “heinous hypocrisy.” Ivereigh, who is single, is accused of having helped a former girlfriend get an abortion when he was a student years ago, and then getting a different woman pregnant last year and leaving her after which she had a miscarriage.
The bishops raised their concerns about Ivereigh at a meeting earlier this month. According to insiders, Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Birmingham, was the most vociferous about Ivereigh’s position being untenable.
Another senior bishop, who asked not to be named, said that if the disclosures were true, the situation could not continue. “Cormac cannot be fighting this all the time,” he said. “If I had someone in that position I’d find it would impede my own work and become a preoccupation. It would be very difficult to carry on.”
Part of the problem is we have a lot of “he said/she said.” As I said in my earlier post, we can’t necessarily hold the sins of youth against the older man, if he’s repented of it. There are many women who’ve had abortions and repented of them and are now working in pro-life apostolates. They are not accused of hypocrisy. But it would have required him to repent of it, which we don’t know.
As for the other accusations of having bad relationship breakups, well, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Is he a cad? Perhaps, at least according to reports in a British media that would delight in undermining the Catholic bishops push for abortion restrictions. Should being a cad disqualify someone from an important public post? If so, then there’s a lot of guys who should be losing their jobs.
Yet, at some point in matters of public relations perception becomes reality and whether Ivereigh is guilty of hypocrisy or not, his staying on in his job risks doing damage to the cause he promotes. It may be time for him to take the high road and declare that whether he’s innocent or not of the charges, he needs to go to end the distraction from the pro-life movement.
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