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Anti-gay cardinal accused of sexual misconduct dies after fall

Cardinal Keith O’Brien was known for his homophobic views - but faced charges of sexual misconduct later in life from other priests

Anti-gay cardinal accused of sexual misconduct dies after fall
Cardinal Keith O'Brien (Photo: YouTube)

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the former head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, has died aged 80. He died in hospital after a suffering a recent fall at home.

O’Brien was Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh from 1985 to 2013. During this time he spoke out against acceptance of gay people. He described gay people as ‘captives of sexual aberrations’ and referred to homosexuality as a ‘moral degradation.’

O’Brien spoke out against the introduction of civil partnerships in Scotland, and later same-sex marriage. He was also against adoption agencies placing children with gay couples.

Allegations against O’Brien

However, he was forced to step down in 2013 after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. The Observer newspaper detailed four specific allegations – three from serving priests and one from a former priest.

O’Brien at first denied the allegations but later admitted them. He issued a statement saying, ‘I … admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.’

The Vatican later removed him from all public duties and effectively forced him into retirement.

Other priests later spoke of their own inappropriate encounters with O’Brien, with the Scotland Herald saying it was a well-known secret within church circles that the cardinal was gay.

His successor, Archbishop Leo Cushley, today tweeted that O’Brien was a man who ‘divided opinion.’

He said, ‘In life, Cardinal O’Brien may have divided opinion – in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he hurt and let down. May he rest in peace.’


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