Cardinal O’Brien’s Accusers Vengeful?

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? 

Comments (36)

  • Miles Immaculatae

    I was annoyed that the Scottish ecclesial party went to such an effort to make sure +O’Brian wouldn’t come back to Scotland. Why should he not live the rest of his life here? It’s Scotland’s problem. Shouldn’t the Scottish hierarchy take responsibility for him instead of dumping him in Rome? After all, the Scottish Church is hardly squeaky clean is it? I don’t think they have a moral right to disown him. He’s one of their own, and I mean, he really is one of their own, you get what I mean?

    February 24, 2014 at 10:15 pm
    • Josephine

      I think the reason it would be a bad idea for the Cardinal to return to Scotland is that he would be all the time quoted in the papers, they would ask him about everything going on here and it would be a constant reminder of the scandal.

      I think he should go home to northern Ireland. He must surely have family there?

      February 24, 2014 at 10:29 pm
  • bededog

    The fact that the assignations were “consensual” rather than “coersive” does not lessen the sin which such acts incur – to make his punishment really fit, I think he should lose his red hat.

    February 24, 2014 at 10:31 pm
    • editor


      You are correct about the sinfulness of those impure actions whether coerced or not – and maybe the red hat should be removed. What I think is highly unpleasant, however, and not remotely Christian, is that, one year on, the anonymous accusers are still seeking what appears to be vengeance, despite the huge publicity, shame and disgrace which the Cardinal suffered at the time of his downfall.

      Believe me, I’m not making excuses for Cardinal O’Brien. Far from it. I just don’t like the behaviour of his former friends who – as priests still “in good standing” – are every bit as hypocritical as the Cardinal.

      February 24, 2014 at 11:18 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Me neither. I think it’s sneaky.

        They can hardly take the moral high ground can they?

        If they were content on keeping it secret for so long, why was it only now that they dropped him in it? It would appear there was harmony between the persons involved, so what inspired the allegations? Was it a betrayal?

        February 25, 2014 at 1:43 am
      • Miles Immaculatae

        By ‘harmony’, I mean the unspoken benefits of cliques.

        February 25, 2014 at 1:44 am
  • Vianney

    The accusers should have the decency to show their faces. They can’y just throw accusations at the Cardinal and publicly humiliate him and expect anonymity for themselves. The only accusation that I’ve heard of was that after having a drink the cardinal put his arm around one of them. Hardly Sodom and Gomorrah and something that happens every Friday night in every pub in the land.

    February 24, 2014 at 10:57 pm
    • editor

      “Hardly Sodom & Gomorrah” – priceless!

      If you keep on at this rate, Vianney, you’ll soon be able to “get” my jokes 🙂

      February 24, 2014 at 11:13 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae

      Yes indeed.

      If the Cardinal had committed a grave crime, for example sexual assault, then one would expect the victims to have anonymity, precisely because they are victims. This is also a civil matter.

      But I don’t think in this case the accusers have an absolute moral right to anonymity. Because are they victims, or rather ‘victims’ in the real sense of the word?

      February 25, 2014 at 1:52 am
  • Graeme Taylor

    If these allegations are true, the ++Arch-bishop Cushley should sack all the priests involved. Any of Card. O’Briens “friens” should be asked for their resignations as they are clearly apostates. As for HE, he should be forbidden to return to Scotland where he headed the garbage that we now have. The Arch-diocese is in a serious mess. We have lay people wandering the Sanctuaries, we have catechesis that is pitiful, I am at a loss to know what to say about anything that comes out of the Gillis Centre.
    Pure garbage is all I can say.
    Good riddance to bad rubbish. The clergy who support HE should be ashamed, but their arrogance is shocking.

    February 24, 2014 at 11:52 pm
    • editor

      Arrogance and double standards, Graeme. The Cardinal must be named and shamed but not his accomplices. Some justice.

      February 25, 2014 at 10:05 am
      • Graeme Taylor

        It is a sorry mess and the clergy (the parish priest in Dunbar led a campaign against the Vatican in favour of Card. O’Brien returning to Dunbar!) who publicly support Card. O’Brien should be told by ++Cushley to be quiet.
        His past sexual partners should be resigning.
        And reading the blog telling us that the parishioners of Aberdeen are paying for the priest living with his boyfriend in London – it is just bad.
        The bishops are a sorry lot.

        February 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm
  • chasdom

    Leave the judging to the appropriate authorities (Editor) – would you and your (bloggers) choose to remain anonymous???? Leave the appropriate authorities to deal with this matter! You (Editor) are certainly NOT the appropriate authority to deal or comment on this matter! Leave the matter alone. You are very much a part of the so called crisis in the church in Scotland, and not in anyway a part of the solution!!!!!

    February 25, 2014 at 12:00 am
    • Miles Immaculatae

      would you and your (bloggers) choose to remain anonymous????

      It’s not the sort of thing I would get involved with, to be honest with you Chasdom.

      February 25, 2014 at 1:56 am
      • editor

        Very wise, Miles.

        February 25, 2014 at 10:03 am
    • Darth Papum

      Chasdom, you’re not Mgr Basil Loftus perchance? 🙂

      February 25, 2014 at 10:05 am
      • editor

        Darth Papum,

        You think Mgr Basil Loftus is that clever? 😀

        February 25, 2014 at 11:55 pm
    • Graeme Taylor

      Where do you get your ideas from? Are you Catholic?
      Our Cardinal involved in an active sexual life up to and after kneeling before the Successor of St Peter, to receive his cardinals hat!!!! Are you havin a laugh?
      Thank God this blog exists, I for one am so very glad the truth is to be found here.
      The Scottish bishops are a disgrace and their past record under the “leadership” of Card. O’Brien was just bad.
      The solution will never be found in calling this blog names, wise up!

      February 25, 2014 at 10:18 pm
      • editor

        Graeme Taylor,

        Your cheque is in the post 😀

        February 25, 2014 at 11:55 pm
  • Spero

    As I understand it, there was a longstanding relationship involving one
    of the men with the Cardinal and details of the comings and goings of the unnamed priest were published at the time.

    I feel it is unjust that the priests ( not all are still priest concerned should be allowed to continue in their positions whether here or abroad. Then again if they were removed their cover would be blown.

    This was a life lived as a lie for a long period of time. The subterfuge needed to hide such a lifestyle must have been huge. What has been said before, is that it was not only those immediately involved who were then protected from any kind of criticism; but all of those in the know, a coterie of old pals. Their behaviour was often a disgrace and they pursued an agenda that undermined the teaching of the Church. Yet time and time again, after each complaint, they were praised and allowed to go on their merry way.

    The damage done has been immense in this way and in many other ways, too many to go into here.

    The cardinal has been dealt with but obviously the complainants do not feel enough has been done.

    They must surely expect that they too should be dealt with.

    I am giving an opinion: it is not a judgement. People pounce on any opinion with which they disagree and say it is a judgement. Heaven help us when we lose the right to freedom of speech,

    Despite everything that I believe to be true, I feel sorry for the Cardinal. Mercy is a wonderful quality and the Pope keeps commending it. But mercy must be administered with justice. We seem to be ladling out the former but are neglecting the latter

    We do that at our peril.

    February 25, 2014 at 9:12 am
    • editor


      Superbly and concisely put. You have really said it all.

      February 25, 2014 at 10:05 am
  • catholicconvert1

    The argument that Cardinal O’Brien ‘coerced’ his ‘victims’ into partaking of sexual acts doesn’t wash with me I’m afraid. If a man, Priest or otherwise, made an advance towards me, I would smack him in the face. If as these men claim, this sorry episode kicked off in the seminary, I would have left the seminary. Even if I wanted to be a Priest, my own dignity would come first. It is horrendous that the Cardinal has been named before the Canonical trial has concluded. This is where the law should be changed. Only name and shame when found guilty.

    If I had the ‘guts’ to publicly humiliate a figure of O’Brien’s stature, I would at least have the courage to name myself as the accuser.

    I would be interested to know what actually happened, and what they are defining as a sexual act. I heard on the news, that it involved putting arms around each other after a few bevvies. That must mean every man in the land is homosexual, surely?

    If these Priests, or some of them are homosexual, as a blogger has said, then it could be vengeful spite for the Cardinal’s vociferous opposition to same sex marriage, and O’Brien could have admitted out of pressure- it seems far fetched but it’s a theory.

    O’Brien admitted that his ‘standards as a Priest’ fellow below what ought to be expected. That’s a pretty big confession all the same if it didn’t happen.

    What we should all be saying with any degree of certainty, is that he has no place in the public life of the Church anymore.

    February 25, 2014 at 10:03 am
    • editor

      First class comment, Catholic Convert.

      As to this business of “coercion” – I asked a priest last night what he would have done had his bishop made such advances to him. His reply was immediate: “I’d have told him to get lost” – that would be the instinctive reaction of any innocent person. This idea that you go along with such things because it’s someone in a superior position is baloney.

      February 25, 2014 at 10:09 am
  • Charles McEwan

    Perhaps there is vengeance involved and if so, those guilty will have satan to reckon with one day. However, I am astounded that the cardinal still, has the red hat or that there is even a question about it. Unfortunately this is the sorry state of Catholicism in the present day. It wasn’t so long ago that a bishop in Ireland didn’t even hide the fact that he had a child and was having continual sexual relationships with the mother. It was common knowledge and nobody did anything about it – not even the hierarchy – which, in view if the homosexual mafia in the church, is perhaps is not surprising. We have been disgraced continuously and the hierarchy still do not seem to be addressing it. Serious sin in the clergy should result in serious demotion. I am sure Keith O’Brien is not happy. What I am not sure about is whether he is really aware of the extreme sinfulness of what he has done. If he did, I would have thought he would have been keen to stay away and volunteer for a life of penance and service in the missons. I wish him no harm and I hope his repentance is true. Only God can judge. Everyone’s soul is worth saving but you don’t slide into Heaven by default – it requires a recognition of one’s sin and a true act of repentance.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm
  • perpetuafelicitas

    What are the accusers reasons for remaining anonymous? If it is that they are embarrassed about what has happened to them, then why do they keep talking to the media? Are they paid each time? If money is not their motive then they can only be seeking one of two things, vengeance or justice. It is hard to know what justice for these men would be as we do not know exactly what happened. Plus if they really were seeking justice they would be seeking it for the whole church in which case they would not remain anonymous. Remaining anonymous is scandalous as it places all their brother priests in Scotland under suspicion.

    The book ‘goodbye good men’ reveals the extent of the homosexual infiltration of many seminaries in the USA. Going on the presumption that the situation is as bad here in Scotland, it would seem that the Cardinal’s actions are only the tip of the iceberg. Whatever the motivation of these accusers is, I doubt it is what it should be; that is to make it clear to practising homosexuals that they cannot be Catholic priests and if they are already Catholic priests they should repent and change their lives or they should leave the priesthood.

    February 25, 2014 at 7:20 pm
    • Josephine


      I think the accusers’ reasons for remaining anonymous can only be that they are homosexuals who are not in agreement with Catholic teaching on sexuality.

      I am interested that you mention the book Goodbye Good Men because it’s a terrifying fact that in the USA if a boy wasn’t homosexual he was not accepted for the seminary and if he’d got in, he was soon drummed out.

      We don’t have any seminaries on Scottish soil now and after seeing the naked cruciform over the altar in the Scotus chapel when it was photographed in the Catholic papers, I think we can be sure that there was homosexuality going on there so it may be a blessing that it’s since closed.

      I agree with you that the accusers would not remain anonymous if they were really seeking justice. It looks more like revenge to me.

      February 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    It is such a sorry state of affairs in Scotland. And where will it end? It is no wonder that priests are in need of our prayers, especially the Rosary.

    February 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm
    • editor

      Spot on Theresa Rose. Priests are very much in need of prayers these days.

      February 25, 2014 at 11:57 pm
  • perpetuafelicitas

    Homosexual priests seeking revenge. No wonder they want to remain anonymous. At least they still have a sense of shame.

    February 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm
    • editor


      Yours is a very charitable interpretation of the continuing anonymity of the Cardinal’s accusers. In my worst moments (i.e. a lot of the time!) I wonder if it is so that they can continue on their way without having to answer questions of the sort that are simply unanswerable.

      One cannot help but wonder, can one?

      February 27, 2014 at 8:10 pm
  • Leo

    Thank you, PerpetuaFelicitas for mentioning the book Goodbye Good Men. It gives a truly eye opening account of the infiltration of heresy and perversion in the seminaries. Opening the book at random and spending half an hour reading it is enough to make the point.

    And when exactly are we going to hear anything about the 300 page dossier about the sodomite mafia within the Church, prepared for Pope Benedict before his abdication?

    I don’t know if many have read about the following story, but it looks like the Swiss Guard need to be, shall we say, “on their guard” inside the walls.

    Pope Saint Pius V certainly did not hang about when it came to dealing with perversion amongst the clergy.

    Pius, Bishop (St. Pope Pius V)
    Servant of the Servants of God

    For perpetual memory of the matter.

    A ghastly crime, by which the joined (papal) states were polluted enflamed by God’s fearful judgment, flares up our bitter sorrow, and gravely moves our soul so that we lend now our attentions to repress it as much as possible.
    1. It was properly denoted by the Lateran Council, that whatsoever Cleric will have been discovered to suffer from that incontinence which is against nature, on account of which the wrath of God falls upon the sons of disobedience (cf. Vulg. Eph. 5,6), is to be ejected from the ranks of the clergy and be reduced to do penance in a monastery.
    2. But lest the contagion of such a scourge, from the hope of impunity which is the greatest lure of sinning, more confidently grows in power, We determine that clerics guilty of this execrable crime are to be quite gravely punished, so that whoever does not abhor the ruination of the soul, the avenging secular sword of civil laws will certainly deter.
    3. And thus because We have made a decree in this matter at the beginning of Our Pontificate, now in a fuller and stronger way intending it to be followed strictly, every and all priests, whoever they are, and other secular clerics, and regular clerics of any grade and dignity, busy at such a detestable monstrosity, We deprive of every clerical privilege, every office, dignity, and ecclesiastical benefice by authority of the present legal instrument. So it is enacted that once they are degraded by the Ecclesiastical Judge, they be handed over immediately to the secular arm, which will exact upon them the same (death) penalty, which is ascertained to have been constituted by legitimate sanctions against laymen who have slid down into this ruin. Nothing to the contrary withstanding, etc.

    Given at Rome at St. Peter’s, 30 August in the Year of the Lord’s Incarnation 1568 during the third year of Our Pontificate.

    February 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm
  • Frankier

    Those who feel sorry for the cardinal should say a wee prayer for the innocent victims who are never mentioned, except by myself.

    I am talking about Catholics in the workplaces who have to listen to utter filth and be accused themselves of being paedophiles because of the carry-ons of ones like the cardinal.

    As for being punished: what punishment is there in being forced to do as Our Lady Herself asked us to do, pray and do penance? I would have thought that would have been the basic requirements expected of someone in his position anyway and not only for three months.

    I remember when my children were at primary school, my daughter brought home a booklet published by Veritas which warned them to steer clear of men in dirty raincoats, or words to that effect. An illustration showed men working in a hole in the road. Being in the construction industry myself, I complained to the head teacher about this. Little did I know at the time that it was the ones who were publishing the booklet that children should have been avoiding.

    For the record, in all my years in the construction industry I can honestly state that I never ever met anyone whom I would have considered a danger to children.

    February 26, 2014 at 11:22 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      I’m glad you didn’t mean the priests who had the affairs with the cardinal were victims because I don’t think they were. They were adults at the time and they should have said “no” if they didn’t want to behave in that way. I may be wrong, but I think the signs are that they were homosexuals as well and wanted to participate. They can’t claim to be victims now, just because they got annoyed with the cardinal.

      That’s shocking about the booklet and I don’t blame you for complaining. Men working in the construction industry work very hard and out in the open – how could they be thought good to use as illustrations of paedophiles? That shows real stupidity.

      February 26, 2014 at 11:33 pm
  • Frankier

    Totally agree, Margaret Mary.

    February 27, 2014 at 10:52 am
  • sarto2010

    When will the photo of this dreadful man be taken down from the archdiocesan website, under “Archbishop emeritus”? There was no “merit” in the years of this opportunist’s “leadership”.
    His smugness radiating from the website photo irritates the life out of me.

    March 1, 2014 at 10:45 am
    • editor

      Well, just imagine being an SSPX priest or sacristan with a photo of Pope Francis looking down on you in the sacristy before and after every Mass 😀 At least you can avoid the archdiocesan website!

      March 1, 2014 at 10:48 am

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