Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cardinal O'Brien Admits To Sexual Impropriety

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

Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, a Scottish archbishop who resigned last week following accusations of improper sexual conduct with priests, has admitted that "my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

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.  


  1. They expect the laity to honor the rules they do not.

  2. Contemplative CatholicMarch 3, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    what a wonderful commentary !

  3. Gee, everything suddenly in the Catholic church is sex, sex, sex. The only implied sex in the NT is the wedding feast of Cana. Now you have the cleric child abuse scandals worldwide, Cardinals admitting sexual indiscretions and God only knows what the other shoe about to fall will be in the Herranz Commission (Opus Gae) report burning up in a safe in the Vatican awaiting to be read for its saucy little footnotes.

  4. I don't know that most of them really expect the laity to honor the rules. They teach the rules because the last two popes need them to raise their voices, and that need was generated by a select groups of very conservative laity---some of whom happen to have a lot of money and political connections.

    O'Brien himself is a perfect example of a man whose more progressive ideas got thoroughly squashed by the JPII clones. It's unfortunate he was so in love with his multiple colored beanies that he lost all his integrity. But again he's far from the only one.

  5. Thanks CC. The whole situation is just incredibly sad and mostly avoidable if we had any sort of mature approach to sex.

  6. I'm real curious about the Herranz report. Especially now that I know they followed up on certain leads all across the globe. It may be that many bishops have reasons to start getting nervous.

  7. I am willing to bet money that a certain string, clique gay or otherwise, of clerics worldwide may be in a money flow, money laundering thing, the products and results of which that goes directly against the RCC mission statement and or gospels. In particular I am thinking of the North American Bishops and political PAC money being more important than dealing with child abuse etc.

  8. If there is something good out of this mess, I hope it's the collapse of the corrupt Curia and the squashing of the personal prelatures (secret societies) in the Church.

  9. That would be one money trail, but I suspect there are others, especially in South America and Italy, plus there is the whole line of sexual nepotism that Richard Sipe writes about. It's an all around ugly scene, but thankfully it's getting exposed.

  10. Why,get a job where the requirements are too much? Why,not get a job doing something else and be gay

  11. Thank you for sharing this informative blog, it gives a big help! Sex is a big issue for priests but we need to bare in our mind that sex should be in the right place,right time and right situation.

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