Britain’s Top Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien Resigns Amid Gay Allegations, Won’t Vote for Next Pope

Over the weekend, Steve reported that three priests and a former priest in the United Kingdom have accused anti-gay Cardinal Keith O'Brien of what The Observer reports as "inappropriate behaviour" involving the men. The newspaper lists the claims by the four (referred to as Priests A, B, C & D) which go back 33 years.

ObrienThe Cardinal had responded that he would contest the claims and take legal action.

Now, it appears, he is stepping down, the Telegraph reports:

The most senior Catholic cleric in Britain, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of St Andrews and Edinburgh, has been forced to resign ahead of schedule following allegations that he made homosexual advances to younger clergy in his diocese – and isn't now expected to attend the conclave to elect the next Pope. There will now be no Briton in the Sistine Chapel when voting takes place. O'Brien's early resignation is believed to have been at the personal insistence of Benedict XVI, in one of his last acts as Pope.

The Cardinal denies the allegations, whose publication has been carefully timed – but his decision will remind the cardinals meeting in Rome next month that allegations against its clergy have now permeated the entire institution.

The next Pope's first priority must be to restore confidence in the sexual probity of the Church. Who on earth is going to be able to do that?

Yes, who on earth is going to be able to do that?


  1. markt says

    The Church needs to take it’s que from Kimmel’s “MovieMovie2.” Get Channing Tatum to become a priest and then he can out sexy the sexy zombies taking over the world.

  2. thatwastheriver says

    I think the only way they can top this is if they announce Bette Midler will be the nest pope.

    It’s disgusting and pathetic to think this man was the most noted homophobe in the Catholic Church in the UK.

  3. matt says

    Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston would be able to restore that credibility. He stepped into two of the worst-offending Dioceses–Palm Beach and Boston–and is sincere in his efforts to make whatever insufficient amends the church can make. He sold the archbishop’s mansion in boston and lives in two rooms (he’s a franciscan friar–that’s what they do). He also refused to following the lead of American loudmouth bishops who refused to give communion to politicians with pro-choice voting records. He famously gave John Kerry communion at the mass where he was installed to replace the criminal cardinal law as archbishop of boston.
    O’malley has an outside chance of being voted pope if european cardinals and third-world cardinals come to a stalemate while pushing for one of their own.

  4. Rot Begets Rot says

    The catholic church needs a much, much younger, more handsome, more charismatic dude to lead the church; one who preaches love, kindness, tolerance, respect, fairness, equality and inclusivity instead of divisiveness, judgmental condemnation, sexual phobia, and hypocrisy.

    But the old men doing the selecting are virtually hard-wired to pick from among themselves–old, embittered, vain, ambitious, insular, hold-the-line misogynists and self-loathing closet cases.

  5. Fensox says

    I wonder if the chruch is going to try and out all the gay priests to obscure their child raping problem.

  6. ratbastard says

    He was only a few weeks from officially retiring anyway. I wouldn’t read anything too deep in this.

    The church has survived 2000 years. It’s far outlived all the mighty empires that existed during this time, endless wars and bloodshed. It’s today larger than all other Christian denominations combined. I’m very organized religion, but think some people are delusional if they think this is the end of the Catholic Church.

  7. Randy says

    Hmmmmmm. I’m snickering. Yesterday I read an article that quoted Wikipedia about O’Brien, “In May 2005 he told members of the Scottish Parliament that homosexuals were “captives of sexual aberrations”, comparing homosexuals to prisoners in Saughton jail. In January 2006 he criticised Westminster MPs over the introduction of civil partnerships in the UK, and Holyrood members over the liberalisation of divorce laws in Scotland, In July 2006 he opposed proposals to change the law which would require Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexuals in the same way as with heterosexuals, calling them totalitarian.[dubious – discuss] In 2011 he criticised “aggressive secularism” denouncing what he claimed was the way Christians had been prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they refuse to endorse such lifestyles.
    On 5 March 2012, O’Brien criticised the concept of same-sex marriage on BBC Radio 4, saying it would shame the United Kingdom and that promoting such things would degenerate society further.”
    I just LOVE it when major homophobic hypocrites get outed—–but a Cardinal??? That’s priceless!!!!!

  8. UFFDA says

    Thanks for all that RANDY, RBR and RATB. I can hardly lift a finger to write anything about the Caths, their premises are just too absurd…but we must always keep the art, architecture and music.

  9. anon says

    If the pope is being blackmailed by the “gay lobby” as the Italian’s put it then this might be part of it. The problem is that everything goes by a schedule, so you can’t “clean house” in the Catholic hierarchy.

  10. jamal49 says

    Rat, the Church may survive but it will be drastically different than what it has been before. It’s international credibility is now severely damaged and its moral authority is compromised past all salvation. It may still survive as influential in African countries and perhaps Latin America but its days as an entity with political influence are over, especially in the West.

  11. Caliban says

    I love that the Cardinal is being taken down after making homophobic comments. What a hypocrite.

    However, what isn’t clear from the reports is whether he just made “passes” at men, which were rebuffed, or whether he used his position to more or less make them have sex with him. That’s a very important distinction. If it weren’t for the hypocrisy of his public statements versus private behavior making a pass at adult men is no big deal. And so far the accusations against him all seem to involve adult men, not vulnerable children.

  12. Diogenes Arktos says

    Cardinal O’Brien had submitted his resignation because of age months ago, but his sense not to go to the conclave is a hopeful sign. Unlike Cardinal O’Malley who is still planning to follow the embarrassing precedent set by the disgraced Cardinal Law who dared to go to the conclave that elected Benny. Yes, I know that any bishop is eligible for election to pope, but I still expect a cardinal. There are three cardinals who are too old to vote but can refer to the scathing document before the conclave. I wonder how many cardinals are truly untouched by problems. All the cardinal electors were appointed by Benny or J2P2 – I don’t expect any major changes unless enough cardinals have been in theological closets.

  13. Laying Odds Indeed says

    Interesting that O’Brien’s resignation can be accommodated expeditiously when it involves allegations of actual homosexual acts, while Mahony’s systematic and prolonged actions to protect criminal priests, cover up the church’s involvement, and silence victims elicits nothing more than a palms-up ‘Nothing the church can do’ shrug.

    After all the crisis and scandal, the church still doesn’t know how to deal with crisis and scandal.

    Also, I’d lay very low odds that the four priests who came forward are the only four persons O’Brien ever harassed, accosted, coerced and sexually assaulted. For whatever reason the concept ‘serial rapist’ comes to mind.

  14. Diogenes Arktos says

    Oops! Instead of O’Malley I meant Mahoney. It’s Monday.

    As far as the four clergy go – the article says the problems go back as far as 33 years. It certainly could be someone was an altar boy at the time.

  15. andrew says

    The fact that this closeted homophobic homosexual resigned doesn’t make it right that four adults who were not named accused him of “inappropriate behavior”. Where were they decades ago when he was made Archbishop and then Cardinal?

  16. andrew says

    What do Sean Brady, Timothy Eagan, Roger Mahony, Keith O’Brien, Joseph Biden, Patrick Quinn, Martin O’Malley and Daniel Malloy have in common? Other than their Irish heritage, not much. The first four are Catholic Cardinals involved in homosexual improprieties or the cover up of such. The second four are Catholic politicians who support equal rights for homosexual people.

  17. Grad Stud says

    @Andrew: Totally illegitimate to question the lag in these men coming forward. It is completely consistent for victims of sexual abuse not to be able to confront their accusers until years later. The climate 30-35 years ago for speaking up and speaking out was copmletely different, and to do so would’ve probably called unwanted attention to the youung men’s own sexuality.

    Add to that, that at least one of the young men was an 18 year-old seminarian when he was accosted by O’Brien, which means he would scarcely have had an adult understanding of what was happening to him–he was probably sheltered, inexperienced, naive and completely in the thrall of an older powerful member of the church hierarchy.

    I remember when I was a young grad student, that one of my older female professors made repeated, increasingly explicit sexual advances to me. This happened in the context of her seeming to take a professional interest in me and my work, so it was both simultaneously flattering (her interest in my work) and offputting (I had no sexual interest in women, let alone one old enough to be my mother), and complicated by the fact that I wasn’t out yet. I knew that I had at least 2 years of having to work around her has a professor and a thesis adviser, so I wasn’t looking to make any waves at the time. In retrospect, I could’ve ended her career; but at the time, I was sort of confused, and not looking to cause trouble. Also, in retrospect, I know for a fact that I was not the only person to whom she did this. Bottom line, different era, different standards of conduct and culpability. But even today, I’m not sure I’d try to destroy a woman’s career. I’d just give her a much wider berth.

  18. Homer says

    Maybe it might be better to wish for the next Pope to be someone who, upon election, will restore the church to its original mission of helping the poor and oppressed and not about guarding precious dogma despite the inhumanity of its position.

  19. Ian M. Walker says

    Homer, if you think that was EVER the church’s mission,let alone its original one then you are deluded and need to read some history. It has always been about power and control. Period.