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.