Vatican strips Cardinal Keith O’Brien of rights and privileges

Senior Scottish Catholic cleric stepped down over sexual misconduct allegations

Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien, who stepped down from religious duties over sexual misconduct accusations, is to lose all the rights and privileges of his office, the Vatican has announced.

Bishop Charles Scicluna was last year sent by Pope Francis to Scotland’s archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct there concerning Cardinal O’Brien.

The Vatican announced on Friday that O’Brien would be a cardinal in name only: he won’t be allowed to participate in public religious events or enjoy other privileges such as voting for pope.

A communiqué from the Dean of the College of Cardinals read: “The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of the rights and privileges of a Cardinal, expressed in canons 349, 353 and 356 of the Code of Canon Law, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, after a long period of prayer.”


Cardinal O’Brien was Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh from 1985 until he resigned in February 2013 following allegations by three priests and a former priest there that he had inappropriate sexual relations with them dating back 30 years.