Another vociferous marriage equity opponent (and closet case) bites the dust!
By Mure Dickie
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic priest has pulled out of the conclave to elect the next pope, citing concerns about media attention after he was accused by fellow priests of inappropriate behaviour.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the 74-year-old leader of the Scottish Catholic Church, was to have been Britain’s only representative in the election for the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
The cardinal has contested the accusations from three serving and one former priest, reported in the Observer newspaper at the weekend, that he committed “inappropriate acts” dating back to the 1980s.
In a statement on Monday, Cardinal O’Brien did not directly refer to the accusations, but asked for God’s blessing on fellow cardinals who will choose a new man to lead the Catholic church after Pope Benedict steps down on February 28.
“I will not join them for this conclave in person. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor,” Cardinal O’Brien said.
The statement also announced the pope had “definitively” accepted Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation, which had been tendered months previously because of his age, saying the decision had been made on February 18 because of the “imminent Vacant See”.
A Vatican spokesman said: “I do not enter in the merit of the [circulated news]. I only stand by the communication of the decision,” and refused to comment further.
Cardinal O’Brien will reach the episcopal retirement age of 75 in March.
It was not immediately clear if the announcement of the decision had been affected by the allegations from the priests from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, who had demanded the cardinal’s resignation.
The Scottish Catholic Church said at the weekend that he contested the allegations and was taking legal advice.
In Monday’s statement, he said he had valued the opportunity to serve as a priest in Scotland and overseas.
“For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended,” he said.
Cardinal O’Brien stepped back from some of his responsibilities last year in the run-up to his retirement. He had been an outspoken opponent of same-sex relationships, opposing Scottish government proposals to legalise same-sex marriage.
Stonewall, the gay rights charity, last year named him its “Bigot of the Year”, sparking complaints from the Catholic church.
In an interview with the BBC last week, Cardinal O’Brien said priests should be allowed to marry and have a family, as many struggled with celibacy.
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One Reply to “UK’s most senior Roman Catholic steps down”
Well, perhaps it is well that he is stepping down but it would be good if he could speak honestly about things. In truth, all of us have probably been guilty of “inappropriate behavior” at some time or another. Lets face the truth, people are sexual beings and how many men, priests included, are truly living lives of chaste purity? Your study gave us a look at the truth. It is good that Cardinal O’Brien said priests should be allowed to marry and have a family, as many have struggled with celibacy. He surely knows that by his own personal experience. It good also that he is apologizing to those he has offended. He needs to realize that many gay people try to live lives of goodness and many of these people are in consensual faithful relationships. I wonder if a little bit of jealousy was involved in his harsh statements about gay people.