The UK’s most senior Roman Catholic official and leading opponent to same-sex marriage has resigned after a group of Scottish priests accused him of inappropriate behavior 30 years ago.
O’Brien, who previously compared gay marriage to slavery and called it a “violation of human rights”, was due to resign on his 75th birthday in March.
However, the four priests called for his resignation ahead of schedule, hoping to ensure that the Cardinal would not be present in Rome for the election of the next Pope, known as the conclave. They feared O’Brien’s presence would prevent a proper investigation into their claims, which The Vatican is now undertaking.
According to USA Today, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired Archbishop of Los Angeles, is also under pressure to withdraw from the conclave:
More than 30,000 pages of priest personnel records released last month revealed that Mahony had been directly involved in covering up for priests who were known to have abused children and teens.
O’Brien’s absence leaves Britain unrepresented in the election once fellow quitter Pope Benedict XVI officially steps down on Thursday. Benny accepted O’Brien’s resignation today, though in a statement, O’Brien claims he resigned months ago.
“Approaching the age of seventy-five and at times in indifferent health, I tendered my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh to Pope Benedict XVI some months ago. I was happy to know that he accepted my resignation ‘nunc pro tunc’ — (now — but to take affect later) on 12 November 2012.”