Scottish Priests Accuse Cardinal Keith O’Brien Of Sexual Misconduct

Cardinal Keith O'BrienThe seniormost Catholic cleric in Great Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is being accused of inappropriate behavior by a group of Scottish priests demanding his immediate resignation.

The four men—including one former priest—brought their allegations to the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, shortly before Pope Benedict announced his resignation on February 11. They claim that if O’Brien, who is scheduled to retire at the end of March, is allowed to participate in the election of a new Pope, their complaints won’t be addressed.

“[The Church] tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs,” said one of the accusers. “The church is beautiful, but it has a dark side and that has to do with accountability. If the system is to be improved, maybe it needs to be dismantled a bit.”

One of the priests alleges that back in 1980, when he was a seminarian and O’Brien was his “spiritual director,” the older man made an inappropriate advance after night prayers. The young priest eventually left the priesthood rather than be under O’Brien’s thumb: “It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not,” he says. “I left to preserve my integrity.”

The Guardian details other allegations of sexual misconduct by O’Brien:

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”… 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…

If you’re wondering why these priests didn’t step forward sooner—or sock O’Brien in the jaw for making a move—you might want to consider how the Church works:

“You have to understand,” explains the ex-priest, “the relationship between a bishop and a priest. At your ordination, you take a vow to be obedient to him.

“He’s more than your boss, more than the CEO of your company. He has immense power over you. He can move you, freeze you out, bring you into the fold … he controls every aspect of your life. You can’t just kick him in the balls.”

O’Brien is a rabid opponent of the LGBT community who has said equal marriage in the UK would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved.” He also used £150,000 ($230,000) taken from the collection plates of Catholic churches in Scotland to oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples.

The allegations against him come on the heels of rumors that Benedict’s retirement was tied to a brewing scandal about a network of gay priests in the Vatican. Whether O’Brien is linked to this network is unclear.

What do you think—are the wheels coming off the Church as Benedict heads into retirement, or are these just minor grumblings that will be swept away when the new Holy Father is enthroned?

Say two Hail Marys and drop a line in the comments section below!

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  • bookman82

    With the pound running more than a dollar and a half, £150,000 would be about $228,000, rather than the $23,000 reported. The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, under Cardinal O’Brien, has spent a quarter of a million dollars to stop marriage equality.

  • Dakotahgeo

    I’m at a loss for words with all these supported stories of about the Roman Catholic church. Why are they scared of opening these cans of worms and scrubbing the church clean and starting over? The RCC would be much more admired and supported if they exposed all of these ne’er-do-well priests, scuttled them into forced retirement and let the remainder marry. Get with the programs, folks! had these improprieties happened within the Protestant church (especially the Evangelical holier-than Thou denominations), these miscreants would have had their offices cleaned out within 48 hours of the incidents with children OR adults. Why is the RCC so recalcitrant on these matters?? Their integrity and image are already squashed. What is left??!?

  • Taliaferro

    The Roman Catholic Church has long prevented priest from marrying for one reason – it does not want to support the families of married priests. It does not allow women to be priests because it fears their power. It will not accept marriage equality because it cannot see that refusal to change leads to petrification. Are the wheels coming off the church? Oh, I do hope so. For centuries this male dominated hidebound reactionary institution has tortured, maimed, and killed people in the name of Christ while its clergy have been corrupt and venal. The loss of the Roman Catholic Church in the world would be no evil thing.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Rape and murder are seen as one in the same in God’s eyes, according to scripture.

  • Joetx

    The Catholic hierarchy never cease to amaze…or provide a lot of entertainment.

    – From a severely disenchanted cradle Catholic.

  • erikwm

    From closeted Republicans to closeted church leaders, the damage inflicted by men who can’t come to terms with their own sexuality is immeasurable.

    They are pathetic.

  • stvrsnbrgr

    The catholic church has spent billions settling civil lawsuits brought by thousands of people who were sexually abused or raped by priests as children. The International Criminal Court has charged Josef Ratzinger (aka, “the Pope”) with crimes against humanity – a symbolic move, since the Vatican can shield this perpetrator from extradition and justice. WHEN will law enforcement and the courts (in the United States and elsewhere) subject these pedophiles and their enablers to CRIMINAL CHARGES and PROSECUTION??? Look at the swift response – legal and moral – once the tragic history of child sexual abuse at Penn State came to light. A shocking case, and a media firestorm. And yet, the crimes committed at Penn State over 10 or 15 years are the equivalent of such crimes in a small catholic parish.

    The victims of the church and its priests number in the tens of thousands, maybe many more, over the course of many decades. But not one of these monsters has been charged and prosecuted for child abuse, rape or covering up the crimes. First they tried to hide the evidence. Then they tried to buy silence. But for an organization which claims to have cornered the market on “truth”… it seems to have forgotten that the truth will out, always. It’s time for the governments of the 21st century to start protecting their citizens and societies from the morally repugnant crimes of this crumbling Roman empire.

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