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Cardinal Keith O'Brien was turned in by his priest boyfriend

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Cardinal Keith O'Brien
When will this charade ever end? That's the question most people are asking about O'Brien.

I'm not talking about the duplicitous, vindictive and amoral villain on PBS's Dontown Abbey, although on reflection I suppose I might as well be.

I'm talking about former Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, until last month the most senior Catholic in the United Kingdom.

Yesterday morning I involuntarily dropped my spoon into my porridge reading about the real reason for O'Brien's downfall: his ex-boyfriend, a priest, turned him in.

O'Brien, if you recall, was famously deemed 'bigot of the year' by the gay advocacy group Stonewall. He gave them pretty good reason to. Last year O'Brien said same sex marriage was a 'grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right' and that same-sex partnerships were 'harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well being of those involved.'

Apart from being an obvious cart full of you-know-what, this kind of hateful rhetoric doesn't square with the experience that most modern people actually have of their gay friends and relations. Attacking the dignity of every gay person on the planet whilst suggesting it's for their own good just doesn't play like it used to.

Don't tell O'Brien though, last year he was calling homosexuality 'a moral degradation.' Whilst actively pursuing that 'moral degradation' every chance he got, apparently.

So I don't know why it came as such a terrific surprise to me, but it now appears that this was the last straw for the priest that O'Brien was reportedly in a long term sexual relationship with, and who - it turned out - was utterly repulsed by his hypocrisy.

I don't fool myself, hypocrisy is one of long agreed social glues that that binds society together. One hundred years ago, even ten years ago, O'Brien would have probably gotten away with his high handed condemnations. Allegations against him would probably have been dismissed as hearsay.

What has changed is the way information is shared now. Thanks to technology, we now live as the old Irish insisted we should - in each others shadow.

Technology has allowed us to see that there are millions of gay people in the world, on the net, and on our street. They're no longer people who know nobody and who nobody knows.

Thanks to one gay man, Alan Turing, you now have a computer to read this on, and thanks to him you're not speaking German and eagerly anticipating the Fourth Reich.

They didn't teach you that in school but they're going to, because information is coming out of the closet just as fast as people are these days. Technology has given the little people a community and a powerful voice.

Technology also allowed the priests who were abused by Cardinal O'Brien to find each other and compare their experiences. It gave them a voice too. They were not the powerful pink mafia that some in the press have spoken of, they were instead just outraged solo voices who finally find each other online and took strength from it.

Gay rights have made their unparalleled advances because technology has allowed us to see that we had nothing to fear, and so much to gain. That's even true in the Vatican now.

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