Pope considering response to alleged ‘inappropriate acts’ by UK cardinal

Vatican confirms priests’ written allegations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien have been received and issue is in pontiff’s hands

The Guardian, By Severin Carrell, Catherine Deveney, John Hooper and Sam Jones, February 24

Pope Benedict XVI is considering how to respond after being told about allegations that the UK’s most senior Catholic has been accused of “inappropriate acts” against fellow priests.

The Vatican confirmed the pope had seen allegations made by priests against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic church, by three serving priests and a former priest in his diocese which date back to 1980.

The claims – which are denied by the cardinal and remain unproven – add to a series of controversies over senior figures in the church and within the Vatican that will overshadow Benedict’s final days as pontiff and the first weeks of his successor.


Hours after the allegations were published, O’Brien decided not to give Mass at his cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday morning, where he had been due to celebrate Pope Benedict’s eight years in office. He cited legal advice.

UK’s top cardinal accused of ‘inappropriate acts’ by priests

Three priests and former priest report Cardinal Keith O’Brien to Vatican over claims stretching back 33 years

The Observer, By Catherine Deveney, February 23

Three priests and a former priest in Scotland have reported the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, to the Vatican over allegations of inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years.

The four, from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, have complained to nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, and demanded O’Brien’s immediate resignation. A spokesman for the cardinal said that the claims were contested.

O’Brien, who is due to retire next month, has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, condemning homosexuality as immoral, opposing gay adoption, and most recently arguing that same-sex marriages would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”. Last year he was named “bigot of the year” by the gay rights charity Stonewall.

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  • Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns amid claims of inappropriate behaviour

    Pope accepts resignation of UK’s most senior Catholic cleric, who has been accused of “inappropriate acts” against priests

    The Guardian, By Severin Carrell, February 25

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned with immediate effect after being accused of “inappropriate acts” towards fellow priests.

    The Scottish Catholic church announced that Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal’s resignation as archibishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, which came after the Observer disclosed a series of allegations by three priests and one former priest.


  • Cardinal Keith O’Brien sorry for sexual misconduct

    BBC, March 3

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien has admitted that his sexual conduct has at times “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”.

    In a statement, he apologised and asked forgiveness from those he had “offended”.

    He also apologised to the Catholic Church, and to the people of Scotland.


    “However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.


    “I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”

  • Catholic bishops ‘knew of 20 sex abuse allegations by priests’

    Separate report alleges that Vatican is investigating child abuse claims against another Scottish priest.

    The Guardian, By Ben Quinn, March 8

    The hierarchy of Scotland’s Catholic church was on the defensive again last night over claims that bishops knew of as many as 20 allegations of child sex abuse by priests in the 1980s and 90s, along with a separate revalation that the Vatican is currently considering the case of a Scottish priest accused of child sex abuse.

    The claims about the 20 cases, which were made by an academic previously involved in advising the church on sexual abuse and how to respond to it, also came as a report suggested that Cardinal Keith O’Brien was summoned to Rome to answer charges of sexual impropriety as early as October last year.

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