Church orders ‘gay sex acts’ Cardinal O’Brien to live as hermit

Cardinal O'Brien, who has admitted to sexual misconduct, has been told by the Church to live as a hidden hermit and may face police investigation

Church orders ‘gay sex acts’ Cardinal O’Brien to live as hermit
05 March 2013

The Catholic Church has told Cardinal Keith O’Brien that he is not to set foot in Scotland again and live the rest of his life as a hermit in a hidden address in England.

The cleric also faces a potential police investigation and a Vatican inquiry after admitting that his ‘sexual conduct fell well below the standards expected of a priest and archbishop’, throwing the Catholic Church in Scotland into crisis.

While the Cardinal’s replacement admits that Scotland’s Catholic Church’s authority has been ‘dealt a serious blow’, LGBT campaigners warn it risks missing the key lessons of the crisis.

According to the Daily Mail, O’Brien has been whisked away from Scotland and is now staying at a secret address at a property which is not owned by the church.

A source told the Daily Mail: ‘When told how he would need to live the rest of his life, he asked, “Am I to live like a hermit?” He was told that is exactly what it amounts to’.

The Catholic Church has launched its own internal investigation headed by the Vatican but celebrities lawyer Nick Freeman, has called on the police to investigate if ‘any criminal activities had taken place’.

Freeman told the Daily Mail that a closed Vatican led investigation ‘isn’t justice. Justice needs to be seen to be done and the Catholic Church has a moral and legal obligation to co-operate fully with any criminal investigation’.

However, a spokesman for Lothain and Borders police said the letter was not a ‘formal complaint’, and as previously stated to Gay Star News, no action will be taken by the force until one is filed.

Speaking with Gay Star News, veteran human rights advocate, Peter Tatchell said: ‘The police should open a criminal investigation to to determine the truth. O’Brien should face legal consequences for any illegal acts, just like the rest of us.

‘If the Cardinal’s actions involved unwanted sexual touching, he should face sexual assault charges.

‘If they involved repeated sexual pestering, he should be prosecuted for harassment’.

Tatchell also criticized ‘the obscene haste with which the Catholic hierarchy has bundled Cardinal O’Brien out of Scotland’ which ‘suggests that the scandal might be bigger than the revelations so far.

‘Senior clergy seem determined to force the Cardinal back into the closet and slam the door firmly shut. To them, he’s an embarrassment’.

Glasgow’s Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Cardinal O’Brien’s temporary replacement, stated that the hypocrisy surrounding the case has ‘dealt a serious blow’ to the ‘credibility and moral authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland’ which requires coming to terms with.

He added: ‘The answer to this sad episode is not to throw in the towel. We need, rather, to renew our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to go about our business humbly.’

LGBT campaigners warned, however, that the response is inadequate and called on the Church to ‘change message, not just leader.’

Tim Hopkins, chair of the Scottish Equality Network told GSN: ‘instead of paying so much attention to [and attacking] the genders of people in relationships, the Church needs to focus on whether relationships are consensual or abusive.

‘We have not yet heard clearly enough that the Church understands that the real problem here was not breaching vows of celibacy, or that the sexual acts were same-sex, but that they were an abuse of a position of power.

‘The problem facing the Church extends far beyond any one individual and cannot simply be resolved by the resignation of Cardinal O’Brien’.

Tatchell also agreed saying that Tartaglia’s concession, although in some ways commendably honest, is not sufficient.

‘To make serious amends, the Archbishop should apologise for the way his church has stirred homophobic hatred and cease opposing equal marriage and other gay equality laws. He should open up a dialogue with LGBT organisations’.  

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