Catholic Church scandal: Cardinal Keith O'Brien faces Vatican inquiry over allegations of sexual misconduct as he asks forgiveness of those he 'offended'

 

RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS CORESPONDENT

Britain’s most senior Catholic clergymen looks set to face a Vatican inquiry over allegations of sexual misconduct with the body that was once headed by Pope Benedict set to lead the investigation.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican council charged with confronting major transgressions by clergy, will likely launch an investigation into Cardinal Keith O’Brien once the new Pope is chosen.

The Catholic Church in Scotland has been plunged into crisis after the Cardinal admitted in a brief statement on Sunday evening that allegations against him from three current priests and one former clergyman that he sexually molested them had some substance.

After initially threatening the journalist who broke the story with legal action, O’Brien admitted in his weekend statement that his sexual conduct “had fallen below the standards expected of me”.

Vatican spokesmen yesterday refused to confirm whether an investigation would be launched but the Scottish Catholic Media Office said they expected an enquiry would take place once Benedict XVI’s successor is chosen.

It is usually officials from the CDF who lead such investigations. Before he became Pope Benedict, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed up the CDF and earned the nickname “God’s Rottweiler” for his pursuit of clergy who strayed from orthodox Catholic teachings. However the pontifical council was also attacked by critics for the way it has handled inquiries into historical sex abuse scandals.

All but 25 of the Cardinals that are set to choose the new Pope have now arrived in Rome. Yesterday [MON] they took the vow of secrecy that starts the Papal Conclave and began to meet in “general congregations” to sketch out a profile of what they need from a new Pontiff.

According to a report by Reuters’ Vatican Correspondent Philip Pullella, the cardinals have asked to be briefed on a secret report that was commissioned by Benedict to look into the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal – a series of allegations of mismanagement, corruption and political bickering at the heart of the Vatican.

As the Papal Conclave gets underway it looks set to be overshadowed the twin scandals surrounding the Vatileaks report and the moral authority of senior clerics. As well as the furore surrounding Cardinal O’Brien there is a growing campaign to stop the American Cardinal Roger Mahony from voting for the new Pope.

As archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985, Mahony worked to send priests known to be abusers out of the state to shield them from law enforcement scrutiny, according to church files unsealed under a U.S. court order last month.

Cardinal O’Brien previously announced his retirement when the allegations against him first emerged a fortnight ago and he confirmed over the weekend that he would no longer play any public role in Catholic Church. He added that he apologised to “the Catholic Church and the people of Scotland”. But gay rights groups have called on the Cardinal to offer a specific apology to the LGBT community because he was such a prolific opponent of homosexuality and gay marriage.

“O'Brien's statement falls well short of what we would expect from a spiritual leader,” said the veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. “He has failed to apologize for the hatred and harm he caused the LGBT community. I urge the Cardinal to show true remorse for his homophobia and hypocrisy by saying sorry to the LGBT community for the hatred and harm he has caused - and by publicly repenting his homophobia.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable