Cardinal O’Brien told not to return to Scotland

Northern Ireland-born cardinal forced from office after admitting sexual misconduct against priests is believed to be staying in a monastery in Rome

Cardinal Keith O’Brien: it emerged in August that he had blocked efforts to carry out an examination of records held from 1952 onwards of abuse and allegations of abuse. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

Cardinal Keith O’Brien: it emerged in August that he had blocked efforts to carry out an examination of records held from 1952 onwards of abuse and allegations of abuse. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

 


Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who was forced from office after admitting sexual misconduct against a number of priests, will not be allowed to return to live in Scotland.

The elderly Northern Ireland-born churchman, who is now believed to be staying in a monastery in Rome, had hoped to be able to return to one of his former parishes.

However, his successor as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, the Most Rev Leo Cushley, who will be installed next weekend, has ruled this out, saying a return was “quite unlikely”.

“The Gospel tells us to forgive and if we don’t then we might as well shut up shop and go home tomorrow.

“That is beyond question part of our attitude to what has happened.

“But we also have to be truthful and honest and recognise the damage that has been done and could continue to be done, and so for sake of the peace it would probably be better for him not to come back to Scotland,” he told Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

Cardinal O’Brien (75), born in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, left Scotland in May after he finally admitted that his sexual conduct “had fallen beneath the standards accepted of him”.


Full inquiry
The Catholic Church in Scotland, which has faced a spate of charges that it did little to stop abuse of children over the decades, now seems closer to setting up a full inquiry.

Pressure has grown following the emergence of the latest set of allegations, that boys attending the Benedictine-run Fort Augustus boarding school in the Highlands were routinely abused.

Last month, it emerged that Cardinal O’Brien had blocked efforts to carry out an independent examination of records held from 1952 onwards of abuse and allegations of abuse.