Catholic cardinal who resigned over sex scandal dies at 80

By Sara Shayanian  |  March 19, 2018 at 11:44 AM
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March 19 (UPI) -- Keith O'Brien, the Scottish cardinal who resigned his post as archbishop after facing allegations of sexual misconduct, has died at 80-years old.

O'Brien died Monday at Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He'd been taken into the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor at Newcastle after being hospitalized in February for a head injury and broken collarbone after a fall.

"In life, Cardinal O'Brien may have divided opinion -- in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down," Archbishop Leo Cushley, St. Andrews & Edinburgh, said. "May he rest in peace."

The Scottish cardinal resigned in 2013 after four priests complained to the Vatican that O'Brien used his power as a bishop to make "inappropriate advances" as far back as the 1980s. He was also accused of using his position to make unwanted approaches toward newer priests under his management.

"My sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal," O'Brien said when he resigned.

"I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest. Looking back over my years of ministry, for any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologize to all whom I have offended."

O'Brien, once named "bigot of the year" by a gay rights charity, was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, calling marriage equality in Britain a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right."

The cardinal believed that priests should be allowed to marry, saying priestly celibacy is "not of divine origin."

"Many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy," O'Brien said in 2013. "The celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry -- Jesus didn't say that."

O'Brien earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Edinburgh and a diploma in education. He served as president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland from 2002 to 2012.

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