05 March 2013
By Marilyse Hamelin, QMI Agency
Differing accounts emerged Tuesday about the role Canada’s top Catholic played in the sex-charged resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien.
British newspaper The Telegraph reported Monday that Cardinal Marc Ouellet was involved in negotiations with O’Brien, who admitted Sunday that he engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Ouellet is the prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and a potential successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
The Telegraph reported that the Vatican knew for more than five months that three priests and a former priest had accused O’Brien of having made sexual advances.
A fifth man, also a priest, would later join them, making similar allegations against the former Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.
O’Brien announced his resignation in late February admitted Sunday that his “sexual conduct” was well below the expected standards of a priest.
The Telegraph reported that the Vatican has said O’Brien quit around November last year, prompting speculation that the Vatican agreed with the cardinal a month ago that he would resign quietly to avoid embarrassing the church.
“It has been alleged that the deal was brokered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada,” the Telegraph reported.
The Archdiocese of Quebec City, where Ouellet served as archbishop for several years, disputed the story. On Tuesday, spokeswoman Jasmine Lemieux-Lefebvre said the investigation into O’Brien’s conduct was prompt.
“The fact that Cardinal Ouellet and his team were able to verify the allegations and to get one of the most important Catholic Church figures in Britain to resign, and in less than three months, is considered a masterful tour de force by some observers,” she said.
The Vatican has refused to comment on this story or say whether a formal investigation has been opened into the scandal, the Telegraph reported.
Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien apologizes for ‘sexual conduct’
Cardinal Keith O’Brien acknowledged having engaged in unspecified sexual misbehaviour and promised to play “no further part” in the public life of the church.
The Toronto Star online
By: Raphael Satter Associated Press, Published on Sun Mar 03 2013
THOMAS COEX / AFP/GETTY IMAGES file photo
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, pictured in April 2005 at the Vatican, admitted on Sunday his sexual misconduct and offered his apologies to the Church and the people of Scotland.
LONDON—The cardinal who until recently served as Britain’s highest-ranking Catholic leader on Sunday acknowledged having engaged in unspecified sexual misbehaviour and promised to play “no further part” in the public life of the church, a statement that comes at an awkward time for the Vatican.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned Monday from his position as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after a newspaper published unnamed priests’ accounts of unspecified inappropriate behaviour.
O’Brien initially rejected the claims, saying he was resigning because he did not want to distract from the upcoming conclave of cardinals that is due to pick a successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned the papacy Thursday. O’Brien also said he would not attend the conclave.
But on Sunday, the Catholic Church in Scotland issued a statement quoting O’Brien as saying that there had 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 apologize and ask forgiveness,” the statement continued. “To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologize. 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.”
O’Brien gave no clue as to what exactly his sexual misbehaviour consisted of, but his statement is nonetheless another reminder of the church’s struggle shake off a litany of sex scandals, including those involving pedophile priests.
The claims against O’Brien were first reported by The Observer newspaper.
In its Feb. 24 edition, the British newspaper reported that O’Brien was alleged to have made what it described as “an inappropriate approach” to a seminarian after night prayers.
The paper also said another priest had reported “inappropriate contact” with O’Brien following a visit to his parish, a second priest had reported “unwanted behaviour” by the archbishop following a late-night drinking session, and that a third had reported being taken advantage of when he went to the archbishop for counselling.
All four, the paper said, had sent letter of complaint to nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, early last month.
The paper did not cite a source for its reporting last week, but in this Sunday’s edition it quoted the still-unnamed former seminarian as saying that the church had failed to respond quickly and appropriately to his complaint.
O’Brien has at times had a rocky tenure as a cardinal.
In 2003, as a condition of assuming that rank, he was forced to issue a public pledge to defend church teaching on homosexuality, celibacy and contraception. He was pressured to make the pledge after he had called for a “full and open discussion” on such matters.
At the time, O’Brien said he had been misunderstood and wanted to clarify his position. But statements made last week, before the scandal over his behaviour broke, suggested he never really changed his mind.
In an interview with the BBC, O’Brien said celibacy should be reconsidered because it’s not based on doctrine but rather church tradition and “is not of divine origin.”