Last week, Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien — the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, the most senior Catholic prelate in all of Britain, and its sole cardinal eligible to vote in the upcoming papal conclave — resigned after he was accused of committing “inappropriate acts” with three priests and one former priest. O’Brien initially denied the allegations, even when a fifth accusation surfaced earlier this week.
But in a statement released today, the Cardinal did an abrupt about-face and admitted that at least some of the allegations were, in fact, true:
In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.
However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have 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 apologise and ask forgiveness.
To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.
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.
Before you shrug off this news as just one more ho-hum revelation of Catholic hypocrisy, keep in mind that Cardinal O’Brien is one of the most outspoken and highest-profile homophobes in the entire United Kingdom. A leader on the British front of the Roman Catholic Church’s global crusade against LGBT people, he has repeatedly smeared loving and committed same-sex couples for having the temerity to ask for equal marriage rights and engaged in baseless fear-mongering about the consequences of allowing them to do so. O’Brien infamously described marriage equality as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and threatened an “unprecedented backlash” if Scotland’s government allowed same-sex couples to marry. He also falsely claimed that Scottish Catholic churches would be compelled to marry same-sex couples, made the baseless assertion that same-sex relationships are unhealthy, inferior to opposite-sex relationships, and detrimental to children, and deliriously warned that marriage equality would force schools to stock what he called “homosexual fairy stories.”
Yes, that’s right, “fairy stories.” From a guy who’s secretly schtupping priests in the rectory. That’s not just routinely hypocritical, it’s downright galling.