Three priests and one former priest have said they “feel vindicated” after Cardinal Keith O’Brien admitted sexual misconduct against them.
The group had accused the former Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh diocese of “inappropriate behavior” towards them in the 1980s.
Even by today’s viral standards, the timeline of O’Brien’s fall from grace was a remarkable one.
When the allegations first came to light last week, the cardinal denied them. Then — just as the story gained traction and the eyes of the world focused on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI’s impending resignation — 36 hours later, Britain’s most senior cleric resigned.
BBC News quotes Catherine Deveney, the journalist who broke the story in The Observer. Deveney says she has spoken to the four men and that they are “relieved at being vindicated.”
In a statement on Sunday, O’Brien apologized, saying he had initially denied the accusations because they were “anonymous and non-specific,” adding:
“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 apologize and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologize.”
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the cardinal is now expected to face a Vatican inquiry and had opted not to take part in the upcoming conclave to vote for the next pope as he entitled to by rank.
Speaking to BBC’s Today program, Ms. Deveney said the four men who accused O’Brien and felt a variety of emotions. Of the men, Ms. Deveney reports:
“There is obvious sadness for Keith O’Brien as a man, but this wasn’t about just Keith O’Brien the man but about Keith O’Brien the cardinal.
“So there is a mixture of sadness, a bit of relief they have been vindicated, and I would say that there has also been a little bit of anger that it took all of this to get to where we are.
“One of the individuals concerned said that to take the cardinal on as an individual himself would have been like running into a brick wall.”
Insisting that the complainants were not vindictive, Ms. Deveney added:
“These men are spiritual men – they want to see an open and transparent Catholic Church as a result of this, they don’t want to see it destroyed.”
In the allegations, one former priest claimed Cardinal O’Brien made unwelcome advances towards him in 1980 after night prayers when he was a seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange.
A second statement from another complainant said he was living in a parish when he was visited by Cardinal O’Brien and that inappropriate contact did take place between them.
A third complainant alleged he had also been subjected to “unwanted” attention from the cardinal after a late-night drinking session. The fourth accuser alleged that O’Brien used night prayers as a pretext for inappropriate contact, BBC News reports.
Although the four accusers say they “feel vindicated,” do you think the coming Vatican inquiry into O’Brien’s alleged sexual misconduct is necessary?