Vatican announces Monsignor Leo Cushley as replacement for disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien

The 52-year-old will be ordained as Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh in September

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Monsignor Leo Cushley has been appointed Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh by the Roman Catholic Church, replacing Cardinal Keith O'Brien who left the post earlier this year after admitting inappropriate sexual conduct.

Mgr Cushley, 52, is currently head of the English language section of the Vatican's Secretariat of State and returns to Scotland where he was born and ordained a priest in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, in 1985.

He will be ordained as archbishop in St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, on September 21.

He said: “I am humbled that our Holy Father Pope Francis has nominated me for such an important task here in our ancient capital. I know it's a delicate moment and that there is a lot to be done but, with God's grace and the kind support of the clergy and people of Edinburgh, I will work cheerfully and willingly with all the energy I can muster.”

Cardinal O'Brien stepped down after 27 years at the end of February when three priests and a former priest made allegations of inappropriate behaviour against him.

He later issued an apology, saying “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me”.

Mgr Cushley was born in Airdrie and has been a priest in the Motherwell diocese for 28 years but was asked to move to work in the Vatican in 1993.

He has been a papal interpreter and speech writer and accompanied the Pope on visits to English-speaking countries, including Pope Benedict's trip to the UK in 2010 when he celebrated Mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow.

He has worked in South Africa, Burundi, Portugal and as part of the Vatican's diplomatic team at the United Nations in New York.

Mgr Cushley studied to become a priest at St Mary's College in Blairs, Aberdeen, then transferred to Scots College in Rome.

On his appointment as archbishop, he said: “There are certain important questions that I will also have to familiarise myself with. I have no jurisdiction in the diocese until after I have been ordained in late September. Only then will I be able to take stock of what has happened and see what can be done.

“It is my sincere hope to do this always in truth and in charity, with a view to reconciliation and healing among the Catholics of Edinburgh.

“My first task is to preach the good news, Christ crucified and risen from the dead, to confirm my brother priests in their Catholic faith and ministry, and to be a loving, simple, wise shepherd to the flock that has been entrusted to me.”

Cardinal O'Brien, 75, stepped down after 27 years at the end of February because of claims by three priests and a former priest of inappropriate behaviour dating to the 1980s.

Originally from Ballycastle, Co Antrim, he left Scotland in May for a period of “spiritual renewal, prayer and penance” after it was reported he was planning to settle in Dunbar, East Lothian.

When he resigned, he issued an apology, saying: “I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.

“To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.

“I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”

The cardinal had been Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh since 1985.