Cardinal O’Brien had relationship with priest, paper alleges

Cardinal Keith O’Brien had a long-term physical relationship with one of the priests whose complaints against him led to his removal as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, according to Church sources cited by the Herald Scotland.

Cardinal O’Brien went into retirement after admitting “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal”.

The newspaper said Church officials in Scotland said the complainant left the priesthood in the mid-2000s, but has since returned to the Church.

The officials said they believed he complained to the Vatican last winter in revenge for Cardinal O’Brien’s outspoken attacks on homosexuality and gay marriage.

The Herald said the complainant was known to have been in regular telephone contact with Cardinal O’Brien until recently and was a frequent visitor to St Benets, his official residence in Edinburgh.

The paper said the dramatic downfall of Britain’s leading Catholic cleric was spurred by gay priests angry at his rhetoric and hypocrisy about same-sex marriages.

“All those who complained about Cardinal O’Brien and alleged they had been abused by him were known to him for decades. At least two are known to have been in same-sex relationships and had become exasperated at double standards in his statements about gay marriage.

“In the six months building up to him being forced to stand down last month, the cardinal had been under some pressure from priests to tone down the rhetoric.

“However, his statements, such as describing homosexuality as a ‘moral degradation’, were a tipping point for those previously close to him.”

One senior church figure said that while some fundamentalist Catholic groups had previously linked the priest with Cardinal O’Brien “there were many questions that others were asking about the relationship”.

Another said: “One particular priest was a very close friend of the cardinal. It seemed to some to be a very unusual friendship.”


Herald Scotland

Image: The Guardian

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