Monday, February 25, 2013

Anti-Gay Top British Catholic Cardinal Resigns Amid Allegations Of Inappropriate Behaviour

Keith O'Brien
By Brody Levesque | EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, UK --  Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour made by priests. In a statement Monday, the Vatican said that Pope Benedict XVI had formally accepted the resignation of O’Brien, archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. O'Brien who has been the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh since 1985, has been an outspoken opponent of plans to legalize same sex marriage in the UK and was named "bigot of the year" by the British LGBT equality rights group Stonewall UK last November.
“Ten-thousand people overwhelmingly, decisively voted that he should be given that award,” said Colin MacFarlane, director of Stonewall UK's Scotland offices. 
“We don’t call people a bigot because they disagree with us. We reserve that for people who use the kind of language the cardinal has used. He has gone out of his way. It has not been fair discourse. His language has been cruel, hurtful and pernicious.”
In a statement released Monday reacting to the news of O'Briens resignation MacFarlane said; “We trust there will now be a full investigation into the serious allegations made against Cardinal O’Brien. We hope his successor will show a little more Christian charity towards openly gay people than the cardinal did himself.”
In 2009, O’Brien urged the Scottish National Party to abandon plans to give same-sex couples the same foster-parenting rights as straight ones, calling the idea “misguided” and saying that gay and lesbians were known for unstable relationships.
In a Daily Telegraph editorial in 2012, the cardinal urged people to stand up against a proposal to allow same-sex marriage, which he called; “madness.” He referred to same-sex marriage as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.”
O'Brien's resignation comes after weekend reports in the British press that three priests and one former priest have reportedly complained about the leader of the Scottish Catholic Church's behaviour some 30 years ago. They had lodged complaints to the Vatican's ambassador to Britain, nuncio Antonio Mennini, and demanded O'Brien's immediate resignation.
The Cardinal did not appear at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh to celebrate mass on Sunday, instead he was replaced by Bishop Stephen Robson, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, who made a statement at the cathedral;
"A number of allegations of inappropriate behaviour have been made against the cardinal. The cardinal has sought legal advice and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. There will be further statements in due course. As always in times of need such as this, we cannot not be saddened by the events of the last 24 hours."
The four priests complained in the week before February 11, when Pope Benedict announced his resignation with the former priest telling the British press that O'Brien made an inappropriate approach to him in 1980, after night prayers, when he was a seminarian at St Andrew's College. The complainant, who is now married, says he resigned as a priest when Cardinal O'Brien was first made a bishop. He reportedly says in his statement:
"I knew then he would always have power over me. It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity." 
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.
O’Brien had been prepared to resign, citing his age as the cause. He turns 75 on March 17, and the Vatican said the pope had in November accepted a resignation letter under the condition of “nunc pro tunc,” meaning “now for later.”
The Vatican said Monday, however, that the pontiff had now accepted the resignation “definitively.”
It means O'Brien will not take part in the conclave to elect the pope's successor - a process that could begin earlier than March 15 after the rules governing the process were changed in a move announced Monday. O'Brien would have been Britain's only elector in the papal conclave that will gather to decide on a successor to Benedict XVI.
O’Brien said in a statement that it was the pope himself who had decided his resignation would take effect immediately.
“Approaching the age of 75 and at times in indifferent health, I tendered my resignation … some months ago,” he said. “The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today.” 
O'Brien's statement went on to say: "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 apologize to all whom I have offended."
O'Brien's resignation comes on the heels of news reports surrounding Pope Benedict XVI stepping down, after La Repubblica, Italy’s respected, leading daily newspaper, linked the resignation of Benedict to the the contents of a secret dossier prepared for the pope by three cardinals who investigated the origins of the 2012 scandal over leaked Vatican documents.
The report suggested the revelations in the dossier included the discovery of blackmail, corruption and a network of gay prelates in the Vatican. which alleged pressure from so-called gay factions within the church and rumors of blackmail and conspiracy.