Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned last week amid allegations that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior stretching back 30 years, this weekend released a statement admitting to sexual misconduct.
In a short but far-reaching statement issued late on Sunday, the 74-year-old stated that “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal”.
The former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and until recently the most senior Catholic in Britain, apologised and asked for forgiveness from those he had “offended” and from the entire church.
Cardinal O’Brien had initially contested allegations from three priests and a former priest that he had engaged in “inappropriate acts.” O’Brien was already slated to resign his office this month, when he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75, but announced last week that his resignation would take effect weeks earlier and that he would not be participating in the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope. In his most recent statement, O’Brien states that he will no longer serve the Church in Scotland in any public capacity. From the Guardian:
Announcing that he would now retire entirely from public life and from the frontline duties for the church he once led, O’Brien said: “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.”
His statement goes significantly further than the apology and partial admissions which he made in his resignation statement last week, when he said: “Looking back over my years of ministry, for any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended.”