Top UK Cardinal Accused in 'Inappropriate' Acts

Keith O'Brien has long condemned homosexuality

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 24, 2013 11:47 AM CST

(Newser) – Britain is buzzing today over allegations that the nation's top Catholic cleric engaged in "inappropriate behavior." Three priests and a former priest are accusing Cardinal Keith O'Brien in incidents they say date back to the 1980s, according to the AP. O'Brien, who is set to retire next month after voting on the next pope, "contests these claims and is taking legal advice," says a spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church, of which O'Brien is head. The Vatican is looking into this latest scandal, with a spokesman saying, "The pope has been informed, and the question is in his hands."

The Guardian details the incidents, in which the priests say O'Brien, their superior, initiated inappropriate physical contact, often after night prayers or a round of drinking. One says he was so scarred that he withdrew from the priesthood: "I knew then he would always have power over me," he says. "He controls every aspect of your life. You can't just kick him in the balls." The quartet say they're coming forward now so that O'Brien might be barred from the papal conclave, which they want to be "clean." O'Brien has a lengthy and public reputation of condemning homosexuality, and last year was named "bigot of the year" by a gay rights charity.

A Thursday Sept. 16, 2010 photo from files showing Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland.
A Thursday Sept. 16, 2010 photo from files showing Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland.   (AP Photo/Scott Campbell, File)
Cardinal Keith O'Brien launched an attack on the government's Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill, at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh Sunday March 23, 2008.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien launched an attack on the government's "Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill," at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh Sunday March 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/ David Cheskin/PA Wire)
Cardinal Keith O'Brien unveils the world's first Papal visit plaid, the St Ninian's Day Tartan near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday Sept.  9, 2010.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien unveils the world's first Papal visit plaid, the St Ninian's Day Tartan near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday Sept. 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/ David Cheskin/PA)
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaks to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday Sept. 16, 2010.
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaks to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday Sept. 16, 2010.   (AP Photo/Scott Campbell)
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