Co Antrim-born cardinal resigns

Published Monday, 25 February 2013
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Northern Ireland-born Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most senior Catholic churchman in Britain, has stepped down amid allegations he acted inappropriately.

Co Antrim-born cardinal resigns
Keith O'Brien was born in Co Antrim. (© Getty)

Cardinal O'Brien, who was the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, was due to retire next month.

He said he handed in his resignation some time ago, but it had only just been accepted by the Pope.

"The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today," he said.

Three serving priests and a former priest made the claims against the 74-year-old, The Observer newspaper reported at the weekend.

The Ballycastle man denied the allegations, which are believed to stretch back to the 1980s, and is taking legal advice.

In a statement issued by the Scottish Catholic Church, he said: "I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest."

It was reported that Cardinal O'Brien missed Sunday Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

In the days before his resignation, the senior priest had called for the Catholic Church to end its celibacy rule. He has also spoken out against plans to legalise same sex marriage.

Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Cardinal O'Brien, who was ordained a priest in 1965 after moving to Scotland, was by Pope Benedict's side during the historic Papal visit to the UK in 2010.

Appointed Archbishop of St Andrew's and Edinburgh in 1985, the Co Antrim native eventually became Cardinal in 2003.

He was the only British cleric eligible to vote in a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

He has since said he will not take part in the selection process.The decision means Britain will be unrepresented in the election of a new pontiff.

"I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me - but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor," he added.

Cardinal Seán Brady, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, will now be the only local representative to vote in the conclave.

Professor John Haldane, from Saint Andrew's University, said he was "disappointed and saddened" to hear of Cardinal O'Brien's resignation - but not altogether surprised.

He said that once the allegations had been made public at the weekend, both the Cardinal and the Catholic Church had been put in a difficult position.

"In the course of this week, Pope Benedict abdicates. Shortly thereafter, the process of beginning the conclave will get underway. You simply couldn't have a situation in which a major church figure, a national figure - a leader of a national church - was subject to these sorts of accusations and then, going off to Rome under that cloud."

The Professor of Philosophy continued, discussing the legacy Cardinal O'Brien has left behind.

"Essentially, he was somebody whose contribution was very much in nurturing people within the church and giving people a sense of their own value and the value of the Christian church's contribution."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
David in East Belfast wrote (704 days ago):
I, like Jean from Cookstown, did comment, but was not published, why? was it too near the truth?
Puzzled Catholic in Belfast wrote (704 days ago):
Is Cardinal Sean Brady not also British - as Cardinal for the North of Ireland as well as the South of Ireland?
Vee in Belfast wrote (704 days ago):
To Reallistic in Planet Earth Haven't you heard of considered INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY? Or when the Media gets hold of the Catholic Church is it GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT? Furthermore there have been scandals in the church from the earliest times - and it has still survived, because as the Lord Himself said the gate of the UNDERWORLD (Did He mean the Media?) will not hold out against it. Jean in Cookstown - tell me the organisation that is all saints!
lucylou in belfast wrote (704 days ago):
VEE IN BELFAST====Are you serious?? the catholic church was 'left alone' for years and the result was abuse on a scale that defied belief!!! and did harm to the many decent priests who are true to their calling. The breach of trust by the purpatrators of sexual abuse has damaged the R C church to a point where it may never fully recover.Just because these people were masquerading as men of the cloth does not mean they should be protected from the law ==that simply demeans their victims something they had already made a damn good job of.The Lord himself said [just after the quote you made]==GO AND SIN NO MORE!!MOST CERTAINLY this cardinal should be given the opportunity as anyone else to prove his innocence and if proved to be so then I'm sure that will be reported too.No large orgaisation religious or otherwise is ever totally without corruption because they are made up of very fallible human beings!!
david in down wrote (705 days ago):
The pope now this come on Brady your turn
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