Cardinal O’Brien Apologizes for Sexual Misconduct

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the former leading prelate in Great Britain who resigned from his position as Archbishop of  St. Andrews and  Edinburgh last week, has acknowledged that there is some truth to sexual misconduct allegations made about him.   He has also apologized for his behavior.

The Guardian reports:

In a short but far-reaching statement issued late on Sunday [March 3rd], the 74-year-old stated that ‘there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.’

“The former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and until recently the most senior Catholic in Britain, apologised and asked for forgiveness from those he had ‘offended’ and from the entire church.

Last week,  three priests accused O’Brien of sexual misconduct, but at the time the cardinal denied the veracity of the allegations.

The Guardian noted how unusual it was for a prelate to make such an admission, and it also noted that his resignation may also have been caused by his call for a married priesthood:

“O’Brien’s resignation was remarkable in its speed; his apology is all but unprecedented in its frankness. Many sexual scandals or allegations of misconduct against individuals or the wider church have dragged on for years.

“The cardinal was forced out only three days before the pope retired last Thursday. There is growing speculation that the Vatican acted swiftly because O’Brien had challenged one of the church’s greatest orthodoxies – saying, in a BBC interview and only two days before the Observer story [the original article which broke the news of the sexual abuse accusations] was published, that priests ought to be allowed to marry and have children.”

The newspaper also quoted Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet, an influential Catholic periodical published in London:

“This is a shocking admission, but one that is in many ways welcome, not least because it seems Cardinal O’Brien must have been leading a double life, and that is now at an end.

“That must surely be a relief to him and a burden lifted. But it must also be a relief to Catholics in Scotland. The boil has been lanced, and it’s time to move on. Too many scandals in the Catholic church drag on and on, but this one has been dealt with speedily, and a line can be drawn.”

I agree with Pepinster. Cardinal O’Brien’s acknowledgement and apology show that he is on the road to acting with honesty and integrity, which is good both for himself and the entire church.

 Besides the abuse and harassment involved in this case, the real tragedy is that because of institutional Catholicism’s negative attitudes toward homosexuality, Cardinal O’Brien felt he could not have sought help to accept himself and to deal with his sexuality in mature, healthy, and holy ways.
I hope that Cardinal O’Brien’s steps toward honesty and integrity are the beginning of his personal healing and the beginning of healing for those he abused.  I hope that his public admission will be emulated by more church leaders.
If more church leaders were to acknowledge and accept their sexuality, the Catholic Church would be a much healthier, and much of the physical abuse caused by clerics’ behavior and emotional abuse caused by misguided teachings could be avoided.
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry




9 replies

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] of Scotland, who stepped down from archdiocesan leadership after it came to light that he had sexually harassed a number of priests and seminarians, has resigned the “rights and privileges” of a […]

  2. […] O’Brien resigned in February 2013 after allegations of sexual misconduct, which he apologized for later amid the fallout. The Vatican ordered O’Brien out of Scotland, and his […]

  3. […] The prelate, who has used strong language to condemn LGBT people, resigned last March after allegations of sexual misconduct with seminarians became public. Irish Central quotes McAleese as […]

  4. […] Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned after acknowledging inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, has been told by the Vatican not to reside in Scotland, reports Glasgow’s Herald newspaper. […]

  5. […] Reporter, reflecting on two recent stories where clerics have had a secret gay life revealed:  Cardinal Keith O’Brien in Scotland, who has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct by four men, and Msgr. Kevin […]

  6. […] remember one prelate who is not there: Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland.  As Bondings 2.0 reported last week, O’Brien resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh because of credible […]

  7. […] priest and LGBT rights advocate, who points to theresignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brienfor sexual misconduct with fellow priests and rumors from Andrew Sullivan that the former Pope Benedict XVI himself is gay, as evidence that […]

  8. […] Cardinal O’Brien Apologizes for Sexual Misconduct ( […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *