Priests Allege ‘Inappropriate Behavior’ By Britain’s Top Catholic

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:

ObrienIt is understood that the first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant, who is now married, was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew's College, Drygrange, where O'Brien was his "spiritual director". The Observer understands that the statement claims O'Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.

In a second statement, "Priest A" describes being happily settled in a parish when he claims he was visited by O'Brien and inappropriate contact between the two took place.

In a third statement, "Priest B" claims that he was starting his ministry in the 1980s when he was invited to spend a week "getting to know" O'Brien at the archbishop's residence. His statement alleges that he found himself dealing with what he describes as unwanted behaviour by the cardinal after a late-night drinking session.

"Priest C" was a young priest the cardinal was counselling over personal problems. Priest C's statement claims that O'Brien used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.

Through a spokesperson, the Cardinal has already responded to the charges: "Cardinal O'Brien contests these claims and is taking legal advice."

The Pope might even weigh in with his thoughts.

O'Brien has in the past referred to marriage equality as "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved." 

O'Brien, who is expected to be one of 117 Cardinals who select the new Pope once Benedict steps down on Thursday, had himself been set to retire next month. 


  1. Caliban says

    The only real surprise here is that apparently all those with whom the Cardinal had “inappropriate contact” were adults.

  2. says

    The church is full of these self promoting stinking hypocrites….
    And then they have the gall to try to cover up their predatory shenanigans with diversionary accusations against gays…’s a Republican/Rove tactic…..turn your own crimes into attacks on the opposition.

    We truly need every guy who has been molested by a priest to come out and declare the truth of what they have been up to.

  3. jomicur says

    Given the Catholic church’s bloody, racist, sexually twisted history, why would they exclude ANY villain?

    In the early 13th century an Italian bandit named Matteo Orsino had the voting cardinals rounded up and locked in a ruined chapel. He then ordered his men to urinate and defecate on them through holes in the roof till they agreed to elect Orsino’s chosen man. Now there was a guy who knew how to give the “princes of the church” the treatment they deserved.

  4. Ernst Rhoem's Ghost says

    It is remarkable that the story never EXPLICITLY accuses the Cardinal of sexual misbehavior. A careful reading of text will disclose that his alleged improprieties never mention sex per se.

    The first person to reply to this story is typical of Towleroad’s Catholic haters. He makes no bones about his wish to see the Church destroyed. With due respect, I would like remind Towleroad readers that ALL gays do not hate the Catholic Church. Indeed, all gays are not liberal Democrats on the left-wing side of every issue. From time-to-time, it is wholesome for those who patronize such venues as Towleroad to be reminded of this fact.

  5. TheSeer says

    @Ernst: If that “inappropriate behaviour” was not sexual behaviour, what was it? Maybe the Cardinal was praying too loudly during those night “prayers”, so the young priests couldn’t sleep?

  6. says

    @ERNST :
    Well, shame on those gays who are not liberal left wing progressives…..they bloody well should be.

    Perhaps you would advocate that gays join GOProud ?
    The name/handle you use is not exactly redolent of progressive views.
    But most of us have been the victims of right wing hatred, discrimination, and anti gay laws, conventions and practices.
    Take Prop 8, (Cal); Section 28 (UK); DOMA (USA); DADT (USA); and innumerable statutes, even those calling for our deaths – Uganda.

    How can any self respecting gay not be totally opposed to the right wing ?
    As for the Catholic Church, they burned us at every opportunity,in the Inquisition, recently called us “intrinsically defective”, said that we can never truly love and this Cardinal Clown above tells us that our marriage is harmful to our physical mental and spiritual well being.
    Tell that to my boyfriend…..we have found everything we could ever want together….and we should know we live this life …..whereas this Cardinal Clown is just busy trying to furtively molest young seminarians.
    Shame shame shame.

  7. danswon says

    NO SURPRISE. It would be laughable how often this happens if people didn’t still respect and listen to them.

  8. Henry Holland says

    “The vast majority of Catholic priests, bishops, and cardinals are homosexual men attempting to hide”

    It’s no wonder the church is having a horrible time finding men to enter the priesthood, now that it’s possible to be openly gay in a number of places, homosexual men find there’s no need to enter the priesthood. Plus, in places like Ireland where men entered the priesthood to escape poverty, that’s falling by the wayside too.

    Thanks Ernst Rhoem’s Ghost for reminding us that people like you and your fellow travellers Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia only care about pissing off liberals, the dustbin of history awaits you.

  9. Stefan says

    I get what Ernst means (maybe), but for a much different reason. I would hope that no gay man respects the institution of the church as it currently exists. It has done nothing to deserve that respect, and that includes both the hypocritical behavior of many officials and policies that are damaging to young men psychologically. The story above is one of too many examples. That being said, the church didn’t have to take that path. Nothing in the foundational beliefs of the church require it, and indeed the doctrine and practices of the current church reflect a deeply twisted and perverted expression of the Gospel message. It was a message that should have created a church that is LGBT-empowering, concerned only with social justice, etc. Those of us who are Catholic and gay have encountered the church when it looks like that, through good priests and nuns, through parishes that actively work with the poor while not enriching themselves, and that treat gays and women and minorities the same as straight, White men. It’s hard for us to just throw away the whole idea of the Catholic expression of Christianity because we know it could be a lot better. As with any institution, it’s people that screwed it up.

    A good analogy might be government. Think to when Bush was president and we had a Republican Congress. Think about all the policies of government that you find reprehensible, and that are even allowed under supposedly Progressive leadership. But you likely still believe yourself a patriotic American, and likely still believe in the power of the Progressive message to win political battles. And you keep fighting. Many of us are activists in places that are virulently anti-gay and unlikely to change anytime soon. We don’t just pack up and move to San Francisco or New York, nor should we. Sometimes it’s important to work for change from within.

  10. beef and fur says

    All those years as a good Catholic boy. I never once got molested. Damn. I could have used the money.

  11. SadlyNotUnique says

    If stories that are still told in a whispered hush in Portland Oregon are true, then O’Brien wouldn’t be the only cardinal electing the new pope who had made inappropriate advances on his priests after having too much to drink.

  12. walter says

    and the pope thinks gays threaten humanity. the church has done more damage than any group in the world. they were accused of money laundering and bank fraud in italy, selling babies in spain, pimping the vatican choir, the abuse of the women laundry workers in ireland and sex abuse of children in almost every country of the world. this is relly destroying humanity. the evil empire needs to fall

  13. simon says

    For those who questioned what “inappropriate behaviour” is, the newspaper Observer is a British newspaper. It is a typical British understatement. For example, Oscar Wilde was accused of “gross indecency”. They don’t like to mention sex explicitly.

  14. DannyEastVillage says

    @ Stefan: the change has already happened within. In the West–Europe and the Americas–the Roman catholic leadership has had its day and now that day is done. People accustomed to managing their own lives – and not just the ones who practice birth control or have gay children–or don’t have gay children–determined a generation ago that the Roman bishops may say whatever they please and the lay folk will make decisions for themselves like grownups are supposed to do. The game quickly changed for the boys in black and in purple in 1967 with the publication by Paul VI of Humanae Vitae. Now–game over.

  15. andrew says

    What do they mean by “inappropriate behaviour” and “unwanted behaviour”? These non specific accusations are meaningless.

  16. andrew says

    @Ben and Fur: Your comment reminds me of what a friend of mine said: He told me that he was an altar boy as a kid in Catholic grade school and no priest every tried to molest him. He now wonders if he was an ugly child. LOL

  17. Bill says

    @andrew: Just to attempt to answer your questions:

    “Inappropriate behavior” means behavior the is not supposed to occur, either in general or in a particular setting. For example, if a gay psychologist goes into a gay bar and hits on someone who wants to be hit on, that is not inappropriate. If the psychologist hits on a patient who is in his office for therapy, that is inappropriate behavior. It may also include any sexual activity on the part of a priest who has agreed to be celibate

    The phrases used in the article Towleroad cited were “inappropriate approach” and “inappropriate contact”.

    “Inappropriate approach” refers to hitting on someone under circumstances where that is not appropriate. See the example of a psychologist above.

    “Inappropriate contact” in this context means some sort of sexual activity that should not have occurred. Having sex with a random person who has passed out or is obviously too drunk to know what he/she is doing is generally considered to be inappropriate contact. Groping someone who did not expect or want to be groped is also inappropriate contact. Cheating on one’s spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend is inappropriate contact.

    The Catholic Church would consider any type of homosexual sex act to be “inappropriate contact,” but keep in mind that it took them nearly half a millennium to reopen Galileo’s case and admit that they should not have persecuted him, and it took nearly that long after it became obvious to everyone that they had behaved abominably. Let’s just say that the Catholic Church’s learning curve makes a pre-global-warming glacial pace seem fast by comparison.

  18. simon says

    In Victorian parlance, “gross indecency” means homosexual activity. “Inappropriate contact” means sexual harassment. Local people reading the Observer have no doubt whatsoever the meaning of these words.

  19. andrew says

    I would suggest that they be specific or be silent. If you are going to ruin a man’s reputation you should be specific. Give details of how inappropriate the behavior was.

  20. Bill says

    @Simon: Victorian parlance? They must be catching up with the times. Given how long they took to admit that they blew it regarding Galileo, I barely expected them to get to Elizabethan English, where “get thee to a nunnery” had a sexual connotation involving what in the U.S. would be called “a house of ill repute.”

  21. billyexpat says

    I love Jackfkntwist and am happy he’s happy! Thanks for being reasonable in your indignation, lucid in your comments and always so amusing.

  22. billyexpat says

    I love Jackfkntwist and am happy he’s happy! Thanks for being reasonable in your indignation, lucid in your comments and always so amusing.

  23. DC Arnold says

    I envision rogue parishes everywhere because of men of this ilk and the fact that the next pope will not go after pedophile priests.

  24. BobN says

    To those who think there’s something good in this, with all the cases of abuse of children and the coverup thereof, there hasn’t been one case of members of the church stepping forward with complaints leading to the resignation of a bishop. Not a one.

    Now here we have four priests coming forward, 30 years later conveniently enough, accusing a bishop of “inappropriate conduct” and, voila!, he’s out.

    This is the beginning of a purge. Just you watch.