Cardinal Keith O’Brien has announced his resignation as the leader of the Scottish Catholic Church ahead of the Papal conclave. O’Brien stepped down amid allegations of inappropriate sexual advances made against fellow priests dating back to the 1980′s. O’Brien’s resignation also comes a short time after he announced support for priests to marry women.
Cardinal O’Brien issued an apology to those he offended during his ministry calling his lapses ‘failures’. His departure from the Archbishopric of St. Andrews and Edinburgh leaves Britain without a voice at the conclave. Pope Benedict XVI accepted Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation on 18 February long before the scandal hit the media.
Cardinal O’Brien had submitted his resignation originally due to his age. He was set to retire on his 75th birthday next month; however, he announced that Pope Benedict “has now decided that my resignation will take effect today”. Someone will be appointed to govern the archdiocese until a successor takes O’Brien’s place.
The resignation of Cardinal O’Brien comes as the wider Church is dealing with massive allegations of corruption and internal lobbies seeking to hide not only theft but sexual behaviors from the eyes of the world. Cardinal O’Brien was an outspoke opponent to gay rights despite, apparently, engaging in a lot of gay sex.
Cardinal O’Brien stated as his resignation came to light that “I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest. Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor. However, I will pray with them and for them that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they will make the correct choice for the future good of the Church.”
Four men from the archdiocese have come forward to the media to expose the behavior of Cardinal O’Brien. The three current priests and one former priest allege that O’Brien tried several times to hit on them.
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 complainant says he resigned as a priest when Cardinal O’Brien was first made a bishop
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
While the Vatican typically dismisses allegations of sexual conduct to come out of the laity, apparently the Vatican found it harder to dismiss these allegations because they came from within the Church’s clerical structure.