Cardinal O’Brien Under Fire Again…

Vatican Launches Fresh Investigation: Cardinal O'Brien In The Spotlight Again...

POPE Francis has ordered a bishop with experience investigating abuse cases to visit Scotland next week to hear allegations of sexual misconduct made against disgraced former Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

Charles Scicluna, from Malta, will meet priests who have been asked to come forward by Archbishop Leo Cushley, Cardinal O’Brien’s successor as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

“I believe that this is a positive step towards truth and eventual reconciliation,” said Archbishop Cushley in a statement yesterday, adding, “This may not be an easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do.” Click on photo to read entire report.


Since the Cardinal is now retired, and not living in Scotland, and since the allegations relate to sexual behaviour involving adults, not children – priests/former seminarian with the ability to send him and his advances packing – I’m struggling to get a handle on this. What is going on? Revenge? I’ve never been a fan of the Cardinal – I’ve been his most vociferous critic, in fact, but he’s gone now. It’s done. What on earth is the point of this latest “investigation” ? What do they want (these anonymous accusers) –  blood?

Cardinal O’Brien’s Accusers Vengeful?

CARDINAL Keith O’Brien is facing a new investigation by the Vatican and may face a “trial” under canon law Cardinal O'Brienseriouswhich could lead to him losing his red hat.

Three priests in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh have asked Leo Cushley, the new archbishop, to pass on to the Holy See their written complaints which characterise O’Brien as a “sexual predator” who used his authority to compel them into “coercive” and “abusive” sexual relationships.

The priests, whose accusations led to the cardinal’s enforced retirement and disgrace last February, appear determined to force Pope Francis to make a final judgment.

It is now understood that O’Brien’s sexual relationships continued until at least 2009, six years after he was made a cardinal.

Last year, Francis ordered O’Brien to remain in a Catholic religious house in England for three months of “prayer and penance”. However, since this period has now elapsed he has been free to come and go as he pleases but has chosen to remain at the religious house.

The three priests, as well as a fourth former priest of the diocese, had initially dealt with the papal nuncio, the Pope’s ambassador in London. However, the diocesan priests have now entrusted Cushley, a former Vatican diplomat, who prior to his appointment, worked closely with Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, to convey to Rome the treatment they received at the hands of the cardinal.

The documents detailing their allegations have now been sent by Archbishop Cushley to the Congregation of Bishops, from where they are expected to be passed to the Secretariat of State.

Under canon law, the legal framework that governs the Catholic Church, only the Pope can pass judgment on or “sentence” a cardinal.

One possible outcome is that a “promoter of justice” is appointed to the case and asked to investigate the allegations. Both sides may be viewed by the Vatican as guilty of the “canonical crime” of breaking a commandment – thou shalt not commit adultery – a catch-all for sexual sins.

However, it will be the responsibility of the promoter, who acts like a procurator fiscal in Scots law, to determine if O’Brien was guilty of behaviour that would warrant further punishment in light of his senior position.

Under canon law, O’Brien will be able to defend himself and insist, as he has done in private to friends, that these relationships were “consensual” and not “coercive”. He could do so by providing letters, e-mails, text or photographs as evidence. Yesterday, a source close to the Vatican said: “There could, eventually, be a canonical trial and Pope Francis could ask O’Brien to resign from the College of Cardinals and hand back his red hat, but I do think it is unlikely. What may happen instead is that after looking at all the evidence they decide not to pursue the matter on the grounds that he has already been forced to resign and has been disgraced or the Pope may instruct him to spend a second, longer period in prayer and penance. People forget O’Brien is also free to say: ‘No, I’ll do what I want’.”

Last May, O’Brien returned to Scotland with a view to retiring to a house belonging to the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in Dunbar. However, he was then ordered by Pope Francis to move to the religious house in England. Since the cardinal’s period of penance and prayer has elapsed he has made several trips to Scotland to visit friends, including a New Year visit to the home of Canon Matthew McManus at Saint Peter-in-Chains in Ardrossan for an annual reunion with priests with whom he studied.

Yesterday, a friend of O’Brien, who did not wish to be named, said: “He is living in limbo at the moment. He is reasonably fit and well but he’s not happy. He’s been told by the Vatican and the papal nuncio to stay away from public events. I know he would like to come back to Scotland and I don’t see why that couldn’t happen. You can’t write him out of history although I’m sure the Church would like to.”

Last night, a spokesman for Archbishop Cushley said: “The matter remains one which is subject to a decision by the Holy See alone. Archbishop Cushley has listened to the parties concerned and will transmit any information provided to him to the Holy See. Archbishop Cushley will assist in any way he can in order to help bring a just and equitable conclusion to the matter for all involved. Any decision on further action will be a matter for the Holy See as jurisdiction in the matter rests with the Pope.” Click on photo to read original Scotsman source


The fact that the cardinal is still being pursued by his alleged victims begs a number of questions.

Firstly, that his very public humiliation, with screams of “hypocrisy” from every corner, doesn’t seem to be enough to satisfy the priests who engaged in homosexual activities with him. So far, I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone could be “coerced”  into such behaviour merely because they didn’t want to annoy the boss. Doesn’t wash. So, what’s going on? Is this a case of “victims” seeking justice or … revenge?

Secondly, who are these accusers? Why is the media protecting their identities? Journalists know who they are, so it’s a puzzle as to why – contrary to popular custom – they are not being named. Is it because the lifestyle and behaviour of said “victims” would not withstand close scrutiny? Maybe the cardinal isn’t the only hypocrite here. Who knows?  Should the accusers show some integrity and identify themselves?

Tell us your thoughts on this latest news about the cardinal including whether or not, in your opinion, he should be compelled to hand back his red hat. I mean, red isn’t really his colour anyway, is it? 

Interview: Archbishop Cushley – There Is No Crisis in the Church in Scotland…

Archbishop Cushley - No Crisis in Scotland...

This week’s Catholic Herald carries an interview with Archbishop Leo Cushley (St Andrew’s & Edinburgh) Unfortunately, the interview does not appear to have been published on the Herald website, so no link available – extract below.

The dispatch of someone this eminent to Edinburgh is a measure of just how seriously Pope Francis takes Scotland’s troubles. It is said to be the only appointment in the English-speaking world which he has personally directed.

But Archbishop Cushley dismisses talk of a Catholic crisis in Scotland. “I wouldn’t say that at all.” he insists. “The Church has actually grown in recent years, you know. The fundamentals are good. The preaching of Jesus Christ has not changed. And with a new Pope putting new emphasis on mercy, on openness, on healing, on welcome, it’s a great time to be part of the Church.” (interview ‘We are not in crisis’ – Archbishop Leo Cushley talks to John MacLeod about Cardinal O’Brien, witnessing a papal resignation, the X-Factor and his latest culinary adventure.)

I wonder if  Catholic Truth – or anyone else with serious concerns about the very real crisis in the Church in Scotland (and elsewhere) – will be “welcomed” by the new Archbishop?  Will we get to experience some of that famous “mercy” and “healing” and “openness”?  Why do I doubt it?

But never mind what I think –  what do you think, folks. Is the Archbishop right – is there no crisis, after all, in the Church in Scotland?

Archbishop Leo Cushley, new Archbishop of St Andrew’s & Edinburgh: there’s no crisis in the Church in Scotland…

Archbishop Leo Cushley, new Archbishop of St Andrew's & Edinburgh: there's no crisis in the Church in Scotland...

The new Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh has been consecrated at a ceremony in Edinburgh…

Speaking to the BBC last week, Archbishop Cushley said he did not believe the cardinal (O’Brien) would or should return to Scotland.

But he denied that the Catholic Church in Scotland was in crisis in the wake of the scandal.

He added: “I think the fundamentals are very solid, very sound, but I can’t deny there are important issues that I’m going to have to deal with.” Click on the photo to read the rest of this BBC report.

Then reflect:

According to Edinburgh’s new Archbishop, there’s no crisis in the Church in Scotland. That’s a relief. Either that, or it’s a classic case of “being in denial”, as all the best psychiatrists say…

Personally, I doubt there will be any noticeable change for the better within the Catholic Church in Scotland in the foreseeable future – what do you think?

Conti Claim False: every bishop personally answerable to Rome…

Conti Claim False: every bishop personally answerable to Rome...

The print and broadcasting media are all over the Cardinal O’Brien scandal yet again: this time their computers have been switched on by Archbishop Conti, former Archbishop of Glasgow, who claims that Cardinal O’Brien withdrew from a project aimed at publicising allegations of abuse in Scotland, with data on action taken.

The weak link in his claim is the fact that every bishop is answerable directly to the Pope. He has full authority, under the Pope, to act in the best interests of the Faith in his own diocese.

Therefore, each and every bishop in Scotland was and remains free (the few bishops left, that is) to conduct his own audit and publish the findings. It’s disgraceful to make Cardinal O’Brien the scapegoat, so shame on Archbishop Emeritus Conti for choosing to “kick the cardinal” while he’s down.

If, in fact, Cardinal O’Brien chose to withdraw from the “transparency” project for less than honourable reasons, perhaps to cover up his own negligence, as has been suggested in the press today, then shame on him.

But shame, too, on those bishops – like Archbishop Conti – who hide behind the novel structure of a Bishops’ Conference, a body which has absolutely no authority whatsoever, is unscriptural and a break with Catholic Tradition. It bears repeating: every bishop is in charge of his own diocese. He is the one person who is responsible for what happens there. Every bishop is answerable directly to the Pope, and, ultimately, to God. He is not answerable  to any other bishop, nor to any so-called “Bishops’ Conference”.

Thus there is nothing to stop each bishop from publishing his own data on child abuse allegations. Let’s have it then, and the sooner, the better.