U.K.’s Top Cardinal Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Complaints From Priests
February 25th, 2013
On Saturday, the U.K.’s Observer reported that three priests and one former priest came forward to accuse Britain’s most senior Archbishop, Keith Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland, of “inappropriate behavior” spanning thirty years. O’Brien denied the allegations, but then the church released a statement this morning saying that O’Brien resigned a week ago on February 18.
Yeah right. How much you wanna bet that resignation was back-dated?
On Saturday, the Observer reported:
It is understood that the first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant, who is now married, was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, where O’Brien was his “spiritual director”. The Observer understands that the statement claims O’Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.
The seminarian says he was too frightened to report the incident, but says his personality changed afterwards, and his teachers regularly noted that he seemed depressed. He was ordained, but he told the nuncio in his statement that he resigned when O’Brien was promoted to bishop. “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.”
In a second statement, “Priest A” describes being happily settled in a parish when he claims he was visited by O’Brien and inappropriate contact between the two took place.
In a third statement, “Priest B” claims that he was starting his ministry in the 1980s when he was invited to spend a week “getting to know” O’Brien at the archbishop’s residence. His statement alleges that he found himself dealing with what he describes as unwanted behaviour by the cardinal after a late-night drinking session.
“Priest C” was a young priest the cardinal was counselling over personal problems. Priest C’s statement claims that O’Brien used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.
The cardinal maintained contact with Priest C over a period of time, and the statement to the nuncio’s office alleges that he engineered at least one other intimate situation. O’Brien is, says Priest C, very charismatic, and being sought out by the superior who was supposed to be guiding him was both troubling and flattering.
The four submitted their complaints to the papal nuncio in Britain, Antonio Mennini, a week before Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. As Cardinal, O’Brien was preparing to fly to Rome to participate in the conclave to elect a new pope. Observers note that he skipped the celebration of mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday.
Last year, Cardinal O’Brien stirred controversy over an op-ed published in The Telegraph in which he described the proposal to implement marriage equality a “a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and compared same-sex marriage to slavery:
Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same-sex marriage wouldn’t be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is staggeringly arrogant.
No Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage.
Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave”.
Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?
Soon after, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, O’Brien defended those remarks, saying “I think it’s a very, very good example of what might happen on our own country in the present time.” In November, U.K.’s gay rights group Stonewall awarded O’Brien with the Bigot of the Year Award.