Cardinal Keith O’Brien, forced to resign by the pope last week, has admitted to sexual misconduct and issued a sweeping apology to individuals he has “offended” as well as to the Catholic church and Scottish people.
In a short statement issued soon after 5pm on Sunday, O’Brien admitted “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal”.
The former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh made no detailed admissions but apologised and asked for the forgiveness of all those he had offended, and for the forgiveness of the entire Catholic church.
Barely a week after O’Brien insisted he was contesting allegationspublished in the Observer of misconduct against fellow priests, he effectively admitted he had been guilty of sexual misbehaviour since he was a priest and during his 10 years as a cardinal.
Last Monday, 36 hours after the allegations came to light, O’Brien was forced to resign early in one of Pope Benedict XVI’s final acts as pontiff. In his new statement, O’Brien announced he would now entirely withdraw from public life and from frontline duties in the Scottish Catholic church.
He stated: “In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. 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. 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.”