Cardinal O’Brien Resigns, Will Not Attend Conclave

Cardinal Keith O’Brien the leader of the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland, has resigned.


Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation comes days after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Cardinal O’Brien has denied the accusations, which do not appear to involve minors. The Pope has accepted his resignation, effective February 25.

Cardinal O’Brien has indicated that he will not participate in the upcoming Conclave to elect a new pope.

A CNA/EWTN article describing Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation says in part:

Edinburgh, Scotland, Feb 25, 2013 / 05:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted Cardinal Keith P. O’Brien’s resignation, and the cardinal has announced he will not attend the conclave.

“Approaching the age of seventy-five and at times in indifferent health, I tendered my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh to Pope Benedict XVI some months ago. I was happy to know that he accepted my resignation ‘nunc pro tunc’ – (now – but to take effect later) on 13 November 2012,” Cardinal O’Brien said in a Feb. 25 statement.

The Pope decided on Feb. 18 that he would accept his resignation effective Feb. 25.

The cardinal recently became the focus of allegations by three priests and a former clergyman who say they received inappropriate sexual advances from him during the 1980s. (Read the rest here.)



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  • Oregon Catholic

    More lies and hypocrisy from the hierarchy. Deny, deny, deny, then resign. It’s seems to be a clerical pattern but I can’t for the life of me figure out the moral teaching it comes from (snark). When the Vatican came out and denounced the media for their take on the reason for Benedict’s resignation, my first thought was that in doing so they pretty much just confirmed it. Seems to me they had the same outrage over Vatileaks and yet we now know everything they denied was true. I may be wrong but everything in me, based on the pattern of behavior I’ve seen, tells me Benedict’s papacy will soon be disgraced and he knows it because he knows there is something very bad and indefensible in the Cardinal’s report that will eventually be leaked. And the Church will once again be rocked by scandal and shame BECAUSE THEY FRI**ING JUST DON’T GET IT YET!

    • Oregon Catholic

      “he knows it because he knows there is something very bad and indefensible in the Cardinal’s report that will eventually be leaked.” I should have added “that he either knew about or should have known.

      • Fabio P.Barbieri

        Not quite. The rubbish the Vatican denounced was a series of conspiracy fantasies about omnipotent homosexual networks at the top of the Church, concocted by the usual suspects at La Repubblica, a haunt of fantasists and Church-hater who regard the destruction of the Church in Italy as their patriotic duty. Cardinal O’Brien was chucked out – by direct orders from the Pope, however the thing is formulated – because he groped some priests. Not quite the omnipotence and the wide spread imagined by the La Repubblica crew; and in fact I feel that Benedict’s sudden and untypically brutal order was intended exactly to avoid any muddling such as these people are used to.

        • Oregon Catholic

          Whether the networks are homosexual or some other flavor of immorality is irrelevant to me (and should be to the Vatican as well). It is the institutional corruption that is relevant and most certainly exists.

          Do you really think Benedict and those around him didn’t know about O’Brien’s ‘troubles’, or Mahony’s ‘troubles’ or any other ‘troubles’ before they became public and oh-so-suddenly unacceptable? Of course he did and that is precisely the problem. They are still lying and hiding as much as they can and probably intend to keep doing so. The only thing that’s really changed is that now they are acting more quickly once a scandal is out in the open. I guess we can at least be thankful for that.

    • Theodore Seeber

      I just read the Moynihan Letters this morning on this subject:

      It’s an interesting theory, but it seems to all be hearsay. The report hasn’t been released, it is in fact “sealed for the eyes of the new Pope”. Rather than containing damning information about the bad guys, the Pope himself proclaimed “Their work made it possible to detect, given the limitations and imperfections of the human factor of every institution, the generosity and dedication of those who work with uprightness and generosity in the Holy See at the service of the mission entrusted by Christ to the Roman Pontiff”, which seems to indicate it was about the *good guys* in the story.

      Even the claim that it identifies an international conspiracy to blackmail certain cardinals about homosexuality, seems to be just speculation.

  • pagansister

    In spite of everything he is accused of doing, he will still be taken care of in his old age/retirement, right? The Cardinal won’t have to worry about shelter, food or medical care, right? He did, of course, deny the charges—-but time will tell if indeed he is a guilty. Guess it is good to know that apparently his advances didn’t seem to include underage males—–no excuse for his “alleged” advances but at least this time it wasn’t children. This mess just gets more outrageous.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Pagansister, I hesitate to even try to defend someone I don’t know anything about over deeds I also don’t know anything about. But assuming that the Cardinal is guilty of making passes at other grown men over 30 years ago (which, if I understand it correctly, is what he is accused of doing) that is a disappointment in someone who has taken vows of chastity and especially in a Cardinal. However, it hardly rises to the level of all this righteous rage. I see worse every day at work. I’m NOT trying to say it is nothing, or that it should be excused or allowed. I am saying that it falls into the area of human weakness. Back when I was young and first in politics, I had men making passes at me all day long. Most of them were married. Again, that’s not right. But I never had even the slightest urge to run them down with my car for doing it. I also didn’t want to take away their pensions when they were over 75 and force them to live under a bridge somewhere as punishment. In addition, I have never considered writing letters to anybody accusing them of being lotharios. We’ll see if there’s more to this. If there is, I reserve the right to change my mind. But based on what we know now, I’m not quite so charged up about it as you seem to be.

      • Will

        If I didn’t know better, I would think this whole blog was satire.

  • pagansister

    Rebecca, perhaps “outrageous” was a bit overstated. Maybe just plain “sad” that yet another man that has worked his way up to Cardinal is turning out to be untrustworthy.

    • Fabio P.Barbieri

      Pagansister, welcome to planet Earth. Cardinals, like priests, are people, and some of them are bad people. Thus it has always been. Priests sin and bishops sin – Dante put plenty of both in Hell, with a few Popes to keep them company. There has been much worse than this guy’s rather pathetic groping of adult priests (which does not even seem to have been attended with any success): nothing compared to Cardinals who were in the pocket of the Mafia or to figures such as Richelieu. There is a heresy called Donatism, that insists that only the sacraments given by priests of sterling moral character are valid. St.Augustine and the Catholic Church rejected it because it denied that the sacrament was an act of God rather than of man, and because it effectively also denied the possibility of repentance. And I find it significant, to finish this story and point out the risks in this attitude, that Donatism, with all its demands for perfect morality, was in fact one of the most violent and murderous of all heresies. When it was condemned, it developed its own terrorist militia, the Circumcelliones, who spread death and fear all over Roman North Africa; but this was not a case of something degenerating from an earlier innocent stage. Donatism was always murderous: at the Synod of Cirta (IIRC), when it was first discussed and condemned, a Donatist leader admitted without any shame murdering his own uncle. Beware of self-righteousness, there is nothing where the Devil finds himself so much at ease.

  • Fabio P.Barbieri

    The BBC, as was to be expected, made a right old witches’ sabbath of the whole thing, but they were a bit less pleased than one would have expected; because – and pardon my glee – at one and the same time, a rather worse scandal erupted about a party leader in the governing coalition, Lord Renard, having a regular habit of groping every young female party worker who came with reach. Of course nobody in the party had ever heard or seen anything, not in the decades that this guy had been near the top…. I feel SO SO SORRY for all those poor frustrated souls at the BBC who can’t go into the usual anti-Catholic rant because one of their own political favourites appears to have been as bad and far more covered up….

  • Bill S

    If I view homosexuallity as normal, then I have to say that this comes down to sexual harassment, the same that Rebecca and others experience all the time. It is still wrong, but Benedicts condemnation of homosexuals makes it worse to him than it is to me and those who accept gays. It would be hypocritical for me to get overly outraged at this, except that it , nevermind.

    • Fabio P.Barbieri

      Actually you are wrong. The Church treats all sex outside marriage as “fornication”, a technical term, and a pass at an unwilling man is not really worse than a pass at an unwilling woman. The point is the state of lust aggravated by implicit or explicit violence. I remember reading the early Penitentials written by British monks, and finding that the penalties for homosexual and heterosexual fornication were exactly the same. The point was particularly significant because different penitentials reported different penalties, but in each case the penalties for every kind of fornication were equal.