Vatican to investigate allegations surrounding Scottish cardinal

Bishop being sent to Scotland to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct concerning Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Bishop Charles Scicluna is being sent by Pope Francis to Scotland's archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh next week to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct there concerning previous archbishop, Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

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

It is believed that this is the first time the Vatican has launched such an investigation into the conduct of a cardinal.

Bishop Scicluna, who will be in the archdiocese from Tuesday to Thursday of next week, was Promoter of Justice at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 2012 where he handled the dismissal from priesthood of abuser priests.


He was also central to the investigation which exposed founder of the Legionaries of Christ Fr Marcial Maciel as a sexual abuser, drug addict and father of numerous children.

The current Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Dr Leo Cushley announced the Vatican investigation in two letters sent to his clergy last Tuesday.

He said Pope Francis had asked the Congregation for Bishops to send Maltese Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna to “listen to and report the testimony offered by past and present members of the clergy ... concerning any incidents of sexual misconduct committed against them by other members of the clergy whomsoever.” He asked those who wish to speak with Bishop Scicluna to “prepare their narrative in writing.”

In the second of his letters Archbishop Cushley told clergy "I believe the Holy See is examining the 'lie of the land' and trying to establish more precisely the veracity of various assertions now before it."

He said he had spoken directly to the Pope and to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, on the matter. Cardinal Ouellet, he said, "assured me at length the clergy ought not to be afraid of the process."

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times