|Cardinal O'Brien will slink off into his retirement all alone. Not so the other man in this photo.|
This just in from NCR's Joshua McElwee:
Scottish cardinal admits improper sexual conduct
O'Brien, who as a cardinal is entitled to take part in the secret vote to determine the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church, had previously announced he would recuse himself from the vote so as to not attract media attention.
The archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland until the Vatican announced his retirement Feb. 25, O'Brien has been accused of improper sexual contact with three priests and one former priest in incidents over the last three decades. (Also by another priest for conduct in 2001. It was this accusation which prompted the other four to come forward.)
O'Brien had previously denied the allegations through his spokesman. On Saturday, he released a statement acknowledging improper acts and asking forgiveness.
"In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public," O'Brien said in the statement.
"Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them. However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."
"To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness," wrote O'Brien. "To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise."
"I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland."
I really wish Catholicism would get over the sexual purity expectations and get some perspective. Perhaps then we wouldn't have closeted sexually active men exposing themselves as either utter hypocrites or lonely men with a sex drive or both. If any of the publicity about these allegations are true, it turns out it's the usual combination of alcohol and loneliness. Been there had that attempted. I guess I didn't react the same way because I wasn't terribly surprised, and maybe quite a bit more sophisticated about these kinds of impropriety. That these are gay sexual advances is meaningless to me because I don't buy into the whole idea that somehow improper gay sex is somehow worse than improper straight advances. The impropriety with Cardinal O'Brien is the use of his position over his subordinates for access. That's what makes this abusive.
I can only wonder how many of his fellow Cardinals are sheepishly ignoring this story out of guilt about their own past indiscretions. I can imagine a very large number of them. Perhaps by not attending the Conclave Cardinal O'Brien might indeed have some impact on the deliberations because right now there is probably more than one victim out amongst the sheep who are getting the courage to take on their own particular wolf in Cardinal red. I would imagine the Cardinals would not want their new Pope to be exposed to the Cardinal O'Brien phenomenon---and have it be true. We most certainly live in interesting times.