To paraphrase Richard Weaver’s dictum about ideas, sin too has consequences, some of them abrupt and awful, such as murder and suicide; while the deleterious effects of other sins, the more hidden variety usually, like a bad case of radiation poisoning, take months or even years to manifest. As Pope Saint John Paul II put it in his 1984 Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, there is a complex involvement in the relationship between sin and its punishment.
It is in this light that we should view, with what minima of schadenfreude we might muster, the comeuppance of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, an over-feted man, whose jowly mien evinces a leisured existence given to much of life’s riches. The shame that must accompany his recent very public fall from the grace of his princedom – still unfolding – compounded by the disastrous train-wreck of the now-infamous BBC interview, can be felt all the way here across the Atlantic. There was the hapless prince before his female interviewer, blinking, blustering and boasting, attempted to exculpate himself from charges of at least one unlawful liason with a minor, and cavorting with a man who by overwhelming evidence – which implicates Andrew as well – seems to have been a priapic pedophile (and here’s hoping he repented before his own likely strangulation in prison). Andrew himself has been all but obliterated from official public life, at the direct order of his Mum, the Queen – this all unfolded on what should have been a celebratory 72nd anniversary of her marriage to Philip.
Aristotle says that shame is not virtue, but it is propaedeutic thereto, both preventing one from committing vice, just from the sheer embarrassment of getting caught (it’s not easy to watch porn in front of others, unless they’re joining in the debauche); and, if one does fall, shame paves the way for repentance, conversion, the whole notion of metanoia.
Worse things have been done than the crimes and sins alleged against Andrew – one need only ponder some of the sexual practices, kidnappings, rapes, ravages and harems of the various branches and derivations of the ‘religion of peace’ – Boko Haram, ISIS, even the grooming gangs of England’s own Rotherham and its increasingly-feral underclass of criminal men siring children for whom they care not, with the females often not nearly so apparently compliant. I suppose princes, like priests, are held to a higher standard than semi-literate barbarians of a desert religion promising carnal fulfilment in this world and the next. But we all have natural law, and should have a natural chivalry and chastity towards the more beautiful half of the human race.
That all said, we should still beware of throwing stones, for there but for the grace of God go we all, and who knows what deep and unrepented sins darken our own souls?
From hidden faults, deliver me, O Lord…He who looks at a woman lustfully…
We may thank God we have not the royal family’s unearned wealth and privilege. Regardless, out of a sense of charity – not that I predict he will read this – the prince’s best course, even if the charges not all be true, is to follow a course of repentance; best yet, be confirmed in the Catholic Church, an institution which his royal ancestors (albeit very distant ones) rejected, gutted and attempted to destroy, beginning with Henry VIII and followed by his daughter Elizabeth.
This entrance back into the one ark of salvation should be preceded by a course of prayer, examination of conscience – an Ignatian retreat, perhaps – followed by a good, general confession and reception of the Eucharist, and to Hades with his Potemkin royal dignities and riches, which have only helped him on what seems his current road to ruin. What peace this would give to his soul – how many years he has left, he knows not – and what a glorious witness such would offer to the world.
We can always dream, and dream big, and we may pray for Andrew’s soul, especially as the feast of his Apostolic namesake approaches, and for all those, including our own, prey to similar sins and failings. Best to face things here and now, before we face that most Just of Judges, from whom there will be no hiding nor dissembling, and deal with our sins, swiftly, surely and salvifically.