[C]ardinal Keith O’Brien is enjoying a quiet retirement in a comfortable home provided by the Catholic Church.
It had been believed O’Brien was doing penance at a monastery in England after admitting he had “fallen beneath the standards” expected of him.
But the UK’s former senior Catholic is staying in a £208,750 bungalow – bought by Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley – in a Northumberland village.
O’Brien, 76, refused to explain his situation yesterday, saying only: “I’m not speaking to anyone at the moment.”
The disgraced churchman has been staying in the former pit village of Ellington, Northumberland, since January.
The house was purchased in the same month by Cushley – who succeeded O’Brien as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh – and two other leading churchmen in their capacity as trustees of the archdiocese.
O’Brien would not answer questions yesterday about why he was living on the other side of England from Cumbria, where he was understood to be undertaking a religious retreat.
When pressed on the house ownership, he replied: “You’ll need to check that with the diocese. I’m not talking about it, I’m not allowed to talk about it.”
Despite his self-imposed exile from Scotland, O’Brien’s new home is just 50 miles across the Border.
Neighbours, unaware of his identity, spoke of regular groups of visitors with Scottish accents.
Asked about his guests and whether villagers knew he was a cardinal, O’Brien answered: “I’m not saying anything. Just leave it at that, the diocese will deal with it.”
O’Brien was brought down after being accused of hypocrisy over his continual condemnation of homosexuality.
He called it a “moral degradation” and described gay marriage as “harmful”.
Three serving Catholic Fathers and one former priest then came forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual contact with them dating back decades.
One claimed O’Brien made an approach to him in 1980, after night prayers, when he was a seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange.
Another complainant said he had been living in a parish when he was visited by the cardinal and inappropriate contact had taken place between them.
A third complainant alleged he had faced what he described as “unwanted behaviour” by the cardinal in the 1980s after some late-night drinking.
A fourth complainant claimed that the cardinal had used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact with him.
O’Brien stepped down from his role in February last year and and remains under investigation by the Vatican, who ordered him to undertake an unspecified period of “prayer and penance”. Read more
Yet they want to evict Fr Despard? All very “justice and peace” – NOT.