Leader: ‘Church must learn from its past mistakes’

FIRST he denied the allegations, then he resigned. Now an admission of guilt. Keith O’Brien’s statement that his sexual conduct had at times “fallen below the standards expected of me” has once again rocked the Catholic Church, not only in Scotland, but across the world.

As Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric until he stood down as the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh last month, O’Brien was not only the spiritual leader for many Scots but he would have been involved in choosing the next Pope.

He is now likely to face a Vatican inquiry.

The key is that any investigation is as open and transparent as possible - something that does not come naturally to the church.

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By covering up numerous abuse scandals over decades, the Catholic Church has made it clear that the pain of individual victims is less important that the wider image of the church.

That must change.

If it is to have any chance of recovering from the O’Brien scandal, the results of the church investigation must be made public.

All those who looked up to him for inspiration and guidance deserve this, as do the five priests who have come forward to tell the truth.

Many will, rightly, seek to understand and forgive O’Brien his sins. But we cannot forgive the church if it fails to learn the lesson yet again. This is an opportunity to begin the long process of recovery.

A head start in poll

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IT is the most precious of our democratic rights, but does where you put your vote have more to do with the alphabet than the campaign trail?

Respected political analyst Professor John Curtice says today that when it comes to the local council elections, it really is all in the name.

The debate is over whether listing candidates in alphabetical order disadvantages those in the same party – the candidate called Anderson will naturally get the first vote and 
Williamson will have to settle for second best.

It does, argues Curtice, have a real impact and as one of the UK’s leading psephologists and current President of the British Polling Council, we should be listening to what he says. Experts suggest a random listing is a far better system all round and it is hard to disagree.

After the prolonged debate over ensuring the independence referendum is as fair and transparent as possible, surely it is only sensible that we ensure the same standards apply to the council.