The UK’s top Cardinal and most-senior Roman Catholic cleric has resigned after four men — three priests and a former priest — accused him of decades-old “inappropriate acts.” Cardinal Keith O’Brien offered his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI reportedly days before the Pontiff himself announced his resignation.
“News that Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal’s resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh came after the Observer disclosed a series of allegations by three priests and one former priest,” The Guardian reports:
O’Brien has denied the allegations and had been expected to continue in his post as archbishop until mid-March, when he was due to retire at age 75.
However, in a statement released by the church on Monday, it emerged that the pope had accepted O’Brien’s resignation a week ago, on 18 February.
In the statement, O’Brien apologised to any people he had let down and said he did not want the controversy to overshadow the election of the new pope.
“I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest,” he said. “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.”
His resignation means the cardinal will not now take part in the election of a successor to Pope Benedict. This will leave Britain unrepresented in the process, as O’Brien was the only cardinal in the British Catholic churches with a vote in the conclave.
The Cardinal, who is now 74, has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage.
O’Brien has been an outspoken critic of gay rights, denouncing plans for the legalisation of same-sex marriage as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved”. He was named bigot of the year in 2012 by the gay rights group Stonewall because of his central role in opposing gay marriage laws in Scotland.
Colin Macfarlane, the director of Stonewall Scotland, called for a full inquiry into the claims against the former cardinal. “We trust that there will now be a full investigation into the serious allegations made against ex-cardinal O’Brien,” Macfarlane said. “We hope that his successor will show a little more Christian charity towards openly gay people than the former cardinal did himself.”
In 2005 Cardinal O’Brien said homosexuals are “captives of sexual aberrations.”
And he offered this in 2011:
“The empirical evidence is clear, same-sex relationships are demonstrably harmful to the medical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, no compassionate society should ever enact legislation to facilitate or promote such relationships, we have failed those who struggle with same-sex attraction and wider society by our actions.”
Image via Wikimedia
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