Vatican Sends Disgraced UK Cardinal Away for 'Penance'
Keith O'Brien was felled in sex scandal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2013 5:58 AM CDT
A Thursday Sept. 16, 2010 photo from files shows Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland.   (AP Photo/Scott Campbell, File)

(Newser) – The Vatican yesterday ordered a disgraced Scottish cardinal to leave Scotland for several months to pray and atone for sexual misconduct, issuing a rare public sanction against a "prince of the church" and the first such punishment meted out by Pope Francis. The Vatican said Keith O'Brien, once Britain's highest-ranking Catholic leader, would leave Scotland for several months of "spiritual renewal, prayer, and penance" for the same reasons he decided not to participate in the conclave that elected Francis pope.

The statement didn't specify that the decision was imposed on O'Brien by the Vatican as punishment, and in fact went out of its way to suggest that the decision was O'Brien's. But in the past, wayward priests have been sanctioned by the Vatican with punishments of "prayer and penance," and the statement made clear Francis supported the move and that the Holy See would decide his future fate. "For a senior church member to be asked to leave the place of his residence for a period of penance and prayer, it's about as a strong a sanction as you can get before the standard canonical penalties about laicization," or being removed from the priesthood, says the head of a Catholic advocacy group.

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May 17, 2013 1:07 PM CDT
I'm sure he will be fully rehabilitated when he returns from his rehab in Mikonos. The boys there will put him on the straight and narrow. If he had only been fond of little girls, he could've went to Lesbos.
May 16, 2013 4:03 PM CDT
so he will go to a place with his wife and kids for a nice vacation! no big deal here!
May 16, 2013 9:50 AM CDT
How about the Vatican stop playing games and instead of this BS of praying do the right thing and send him to the police station with all the documentation they have against him? Maybe people will start having a little faith that the church is willing to do the right thing.