LGBT rights campaigners have demanded Cardinal Keith O’Brien apologizes for his ‘vicious’ gay hate propaganda after he admitted he had engaged in sexual ‘acts’ with his own male priests.
While O’Brien has come forward, acknowledging and apologising for sexual misconduct following the allegations by four priests and one former priest, LGBT rights campaigners says this does not go far enough.
Others have suggested he is ‘self-loathing’ and may need therapy.
In a public statement yesterday (3 March) O’Brien admitted ‘that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me’ adding: ‘To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness’.
He also apologized to ‘the Catholic Church and people of Scotland’.
But the Cardinal must also apologize to gay people for his outspoken anti-gay views, say LGBT rights groups.
Last month (23 February) the Cardinal stated that male priests should be able to marry women, while remaining bitterly opposed to gay marriage.
O’Brien has previously compared gay marriage to slavery, claiming it is a ‘violation of human rights’ and slammed its planned introduction by the Scottish and parliament and Westminster as ‘madness’.
He also said gay relationships are inferior and damaging in comparison with straight ones.
In November, Cardinal O’Brien was named ‘Bigot of the Year’ by Stonewall, a UK gay rights charity, due to his outspoken views on marriage equality.
Veteran British human rights activist Peter Tatchell said: ‘The Cardinal is a troubled man. I pity him. He needs counselling to help him deal with his decades of deception, and to come to terms with his obvious self-loathing and deeply repressed homosexual desires.
‘O’Brien’s statement falls well short of what we would expect from a spiritual leader.
‘He has failed to apologize for the hatred and harm he caused the LGBT community.
‘I urge the Cardinal to show true remorse for his homophobia and hypocrisy by saying sorry to the LGBT community for the hatred and harm he has caused – and by publicly repenting his homophobia.
‘He should make amends by dropping his opposition to marriage equality and by beginning a new gay-affirmative ministry to LGBT Catholics’.
Speaking with Gay Star News, Colin MacFarlane, chair of rights group Stonewall Scotland said: ‘We note with sadness that the Cardinal didn’t find it in him to apologise to gay people, their families and friends for the harm his vicious and cruel language caused.’
And Tim Hopkins, chair of Equality Network, a Scottish LGBT charity stated to GSN: ‘Cardinal O’Brien’s outspoken and outdated opposition to LGBT equality caused much hurt and damage, and gave a green light to discrimination.
‘It appears now that he also took advantage of student priests in his care. It cannot excuse his actions or his hypocrisy, but the Cardinal grew up at a time when gay and bisexual men faced overwhelming stigma and shame.
‘We hope that in future the Catholic Church will contribute to a Scotland where all young people, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, can grow up fully respecting themselves, and having mutual and respectful relationships with others’.
In a straw poll, 90% of Gay Star News readers said the Cardinal should apologise to LGBT people, with only 6% saying he shouldn’t and 4% remaining undecided.
Gay faith groups also commented on the Cardinal’s apology.
Reverend Sharon Ferguson, chair of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, told Gay Star News: ‘The Cardinal’s apology highlights the fact there is a major problem with the training of priests in the Catholic Church and other denominations; priests are not given means to learn about their sexuality, let alone explore it.
‘If the Cardinal believes his own sexual desires to be an evil sin, it is no wonder he has been so vociferous against gays; it is his own struggle against a part of himself he is denying which is incredibly sad.
‘The Cardinal is right to apologize for violating his vows of celibacy, but he should also make an apology to LGBT people for his outspoken anti-gay stance that no doubt has been causing harm and damage’.
Joe Stanely, Chair of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council told GSN: ‘Being a Cardinal does not make one any holier or closer to God than anybody else, his anti-gay statements are based on a very dated understanding of human sexuality.
‘Given the nature of his misconduct it is very unfortunate that he was so outspoken against gay people, which alienated LGBT people further from the Church and may have caused damage.
‘I am sorry and sympathetic to the priests who may have been victims to an abuse of power by the Cardinal and as well as to what happened to the cardinal.
‘All of this shows how a culture of secrecy within the Catholic Church can be so damaging.
‘In recent years that has been some movement within the church to accept that the reality of being LGBT its not a lifestyle choice, but an innate nature.
‘Such views along with a change of the culture of secrecy may help the Catholic Church deal better in the future with LGBT issues.
Gay Star News also contacted Lothain and Borders police in Scotland who said they did not wish to comment on the news amid some calls he should be investigated as the priests’ claims indicate sexual harassment.
GSN understands the force does not believe it is a police matter and have not yet received any complaints regarding O’Brien.