From: BBC News
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric has been reported to the Vatican over claims of inappropriate behaviour going back 30 years, a newspaper says. The Observer said three priests and one former priest have made the complaint against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, 74, leader of the Scottish Catholic Church.
They have demanded his immediate resignation, it said. A statement from the Scottish Catholic Church said Cardinal O’Brien contested the claims and was taking legal advice. Cardinal O’Brien stood down from some front-line duties in the Catholic Church in Scotland last year because of his age, and is due to retire next month when he turns 75. He will have a say in who succeeds Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff stands down on 28 February. He is Britain’s only representative in the election for a successor.
The Observer reported that the three priests and one former priest – from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh – complained to the Pope’s representative to Britain, nuncio Antonio Mennini, of what they claimed was the cardinal’s inappropriate behaviour towards them in the 1980s. The four complained in the week before 11 February, when Pope Benedict announced his resignation. The former priest claims Cardinal O’Brien made an inappropriate approach to him in 1980, after night prayers, when he was a seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, the Observer says.
A second statement from another complainant says he was living in a parish when he was visited by O’Brien, and inappropriate contact took place between them. A third complainant alleges dealing with what he describes as “unwanted behaviour” by the cardinal in the 1980s after some late-night drinking. And the fourth complainant claims the cardinal used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.
Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien (born 17 March 1938) is a Scottish Cardinal, and the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh of the Roman Catholic Church. O’Brien is currently the only living Cardinal from Scotland. Before elevation to cardinal, O’Brien was regarded as liberal on the issue of homosexuality, noting the number of homosexual priests in the Church. However in May 2005 he told members of the Scottish Parliament that homosexuals were “captives of sexual aberrations”, comparing homosexuals to prisoners in Saughton jail. In January 2006 he criticised Westminster MPs over the introduction of civil partnerships in the UK and in July 2006 he opposed proposals to change the law which would require Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexuals in the same way as with heterosexuals, calling them totalitarian. On 5 March 2012, O’Brien criticised the concept of same-sex marriage on BBC Radio 4, saying it would shame the United Kingdom and that promoting such things would degenerate society further.
If the allegations are true we feel for Cardinal O’Brien who must be suffering a distinct amount of cognitive dissonance over his faith and alleged sexuality. However, if substantiated, the allegations reveal not only a startling hypocrisy (perhaps necessary to climb the political ladder within the Vatican) but hint at an abuse of power.