The questions of O’Brien

Cardinal Keith O'BrienAlthough his resignation was generally expected to take place some time in the coming months, it was still a surprise that the Holy See today accepted the resignation of Keith Cardinal O’Brien, the archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh. It did so in accordance with canon 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers the obligation of a diocesan bishop to offer his resignation as he reaches the age of 75. Cardinal O’Brien will reach that age next month and, according to his official statement, his resignation had been accepted “nunc pro tunc” back in November.

But is that the whole story? Of course, we must treat carefully here, because it is all speculation, but that speculation arises from some recent developments surrounding Cardinal O’Brien. He has recently been accused of sexual misconduct by three priests and one former priest from his diocese, stretching back over the past 30 years. Cardinal O’Brien strongly denies these accusations, but they unavoidable raised questions about what, if anything, really happened. And today, his unexpected resignation as well as his decision not to attend the conclave, has raised even more questions. But any answers will most likely depend on ecclesiastic and secular legal actions, if and when they take place. For now, we have the cardinal’s word and explanation to go on.

Cardinal O’Brien has stated that he will not travel to Rome next month, although his resignation does not prevent him from attending, because “I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focussed on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his Successor.” That means that 115 electors will participate in the conclave. As reported earlier, Ukrainian Cardinal Husar will reach the age of 80 tomorrow, before the sede vacante begins, and Indonesian Cardinal Darmaatmadja will stay at home because of health reasons. Great Britain will have no elector at the conclave, although the United Kingdom will, since the Irish primate, Cardinal Brady, resides within Northern Ireland.

Cardinal O’Brien has been archbishop of Scotland’s primatial see since 1985, and he was created a cardinal in 2003 with the title church of Santi Gioacchino ed Anna al Tuscolano.

Photo credit:  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


4 thoughts on “The questions of O’Brien”

  1. Well, Cardinal O’Brien was named in 2012 a ‘Bigot of Year’ by some gay charity, he was well known for his opposition to gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia. He was not a liberal but rather defending Church teachings. He was interviewed by BBC and I do not think this was live interview, and suddenly in very awkward way he seemed to expressed views on married priesthood. I suspect some editing involving cutting out a few words etc etc. Something is not right.

  2. You must be careful here, he has not been “accused of sexual misconduct” though that is what many are deducing it to be. He has been accused of “impropriety” which covers a much wider field. He has not been given the names of his accusers (who were grown men at the time – 30 years ago) so he knows nothing of those who have made the accusations against him.
    The newspaper that carried the story (The Observer) had been informed of it some time ago and was ready to use it when he stepped down – undoubtedly to a fanfare of good wishes – and would have been used to tarnish his memory, but were forced to bring it forward when the pope resigned and Cardinal O’Brien announced that he was going to Rome to elect a new pope.
    What we do know at the moment is that the good Cardinal is taking legal advice and is contesting the claims, which is very difficult to do when your accusers remain in the dark.
    For my mind he is a good man who has faithfully held the office of Cardinal, has been a staunch supporter of human life and dignity (he offered homes and money to many women faced with abortion and no doubt saved lives and souls in the process) and upholds the dignity of marriage and family life. He stands as a bulwark against the combined homosexual and pro-death groups who are no doubt delighted at his current mis-fortune.
    What ever he is alleged to have done wrong in the past (and the allegations do not spread over thirty years they are 30 years old!!) he has more than made up for it by his pious and faithful journey since.
    May God’s mercy be upon all those involved in this sad and sorry event.

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