Skip to main content

Scotland's archbishop contests "inappropriate behavior" claim

By Matt Smith, CNN
February 25, 2013 -- Updated 1020 GMT (1820 HKT)
Cardinal Keith O'Brien contests the claims against him
Cardinal Keith O'Brien contests the claims against him "and is seeking legal advice," the Scottish Catholic Media Office told CNN.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cardinal Keith O'Brien is accused of "inappropriate behavior" with priests
  • O'Brien "contests these claims and is taking legal advice," his archdiocese says
  • Pope Benedict XVI has been informed of the allegations, a Vatican spokesman says

(CNN) -- Scotland's Roman Catholic archbishop is contesting accusations of "inappropriate behavior" with priests, claims leveled as Cardinal Keith O'Brien prepares to join the conclave that will choose a new pope.

British newspaper The Observer reported Sunday that three priests and one former priest have leveled allegations against O'Brien that date back 30 years. The Observer did not recount details of the claims or identify any of O'Brien's accusers, but said one of the priests alleged "that the cardinal developed an inappropriate relationship with him."

O'Brien did not attend Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday, but the Scottish Catholic Media Office told CNN that the cardinal "contests these claims and is taking legal advice."

Pope delivers final Angelus prayer
Vatican denies 'false news reports'
Key moments in pope's resignation
Rumors swirl around pope's resignation

His accusers took their complaints to the Vatican representative in Britain and demanded O'Brien's resignation, The Observer reported. At the Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the church, told reporters that Pope Benedict XVI has been informed of the allegations.

The Irish-born O'Brien is scheduled to retire on St. Patrick's Day, his 75th birthday. But in a message to the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh last Sunday, he said he expected to take part as the College of Cardinals gathers in Rome to pick a successor to Benedict, who has led the worldwide church since 2005.

The accusations against O'Brien follow a buzz in Italian media about claims that gay clergy may have made themselves vulnerable to blackmail by male prostitutes, setting off speculation that a brewing scandal may have triggered Benedict's resignation. The Vatican vehemently denied the allegations Saturday, with Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone criticizing a rash of "often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories" as the cardinals prepare for their conclave.

Benedict announced his resignation on February 11, saying that at 85, he was too weak to continue his duties. He leaves the papacy on Thursday, becoming the first pope to step down since 1415.

CNN's Hada Messia and Per Nyberg contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Is the rapid rise of religion in China a threat to the Communist Party's rule?
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Unlike most twenty somethings starting out in New York City, Zhang Yuzhu is not scrimping to make rent.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1940 GMT (0340 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
The sights couldn't be sadder: Animals killed or suffering through war in Gaza.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
They are the faces of a community on the run. Photographer Warzer Jaff documents the plight of the Yazidis.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
A cameraman films a massive New York City subway rat charging at him and attacking him. WPIX reports.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT