Saturday, 4 April 2015


Archbishop Cushley says O’Brien destroyed Church’s credibility as new allegations emerge

The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh has described the actions of his predecessor, who has apologised for his sexual failings, as damaging the Church’s credibility and demoralising Catholics.
Archbishop Leo Cushley’s comments came after Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by five men, four of them priests, resigned the “rights and privileges” of a cardinal.

This week The Tablet spoke to one of the priest accusers of Cardinal O’Brien who said there were multiple incidents of sexual misconduct by the cardinal against seminarians and young clergy.

The priest, who is remaining anonymous, said he believed that at least 40 cases took place from 1985, the year the cardinal became archbishop, until 2010.

He described how the cardinal made an “unmistakeable” sexual advance to him at Archbishop’s House in Edinburgh in 1990 which the priest, who is not gay, said he rebuffed. He said that the cardinal acted afterwards “as if nothing had happened…he blanked it completely.”

Asked why he did not make a complaint at the time, he replied: “Who would have believed me? Who could I have gone to that would have taken me seriously. The cardinal had his lawyers and they would have crushed me.”

He went on: “You’re controlled. You have no freedom of movement, of action. He can determine what your life is like.”

Even more seriously, the priest alleges that the cardinal approached individuals in the guise of a confessor in order to groom them for sexual contact.

“This is not a matter of people coming to him to confess, but him approaching them,” he said. 
The priest said clergy might not have complained if Cardinal O’Brien had had a long-term partner.
“It’s not the fact that he was gay, which everyone knew about. But that he was a predator,” he said.
These allegations were put to Cardinal O’Brien for a response. A spokesman said: “Cardinal O’Brien refers any further inquiries regarding his past or present situation to the statements issued by the Holy See Press Office on Friday 20 March 2015 or by himself on the same date.”

Following the announcement of his resignation, the cardinal apologised to the “Catholic Church and the people of Scotland” and said his sexual conduct had fallen below the required standards.

Archbishop Cushley welcomed the apology and said the cardinal’s behaviour “distressed many, it demoralised faithful Catholics and made the Church less credible to those who are not Catholic”.

When asked if the cardinal’s behaviour had led to mismanagement of the archdiocese a spokesman said it “does not believe that any such mismanagement has occurred.” He added, however: “the archdiocese will always take seriously any allegations or complaints concerning mismanagement and will deal with these appropriately”


  1. The abuse of Clerical power that Cardinal O'Brien represents is truly frightening.
    One of the next big scandals that will eventually emerge is the abuse of Priests by their Bishops.

    Clerical Observer.

    1. And of course there are more forms of abuse than sexual abuse.

    2. How right you are. Psychological abuse covering a multitude. People sometimes stay in relationships where they are physically abused-I can understand why when i think back on my time in St Annes. I was never physically abused but there was ongoing psycological pressure. Main alledged perp was not even a cleric. Its a question of the devil you know.... Anyway most Devils in the church have been named by now. I hope this makes it easier for folks to take the next step. Still the ratio between talk and action is pretty low if I am interpreting thing correctly. Bit sad all of this in the light of the Easter Liturgy

  2. Pat,
    Yes I agree there are many different forms of abuse. What makes abuse of whatever form in the Church so unacceptable, is that the life of Jesus teaches us that one cannot call oneself a Christian and practice abuse ; they cannot coexist !
    The 'Christian' who abuses sexually, spiritually, financially, mentally, or physically has stepped outside the Kingdom of God and entered the realm of Satan.
    How so much more shocking is it when the abuser is a Priest, Bishop or Cardinal, who is called to share in the very Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
    Therein lies the immense challenge for the Institutional Church, which at times both facilitates and hides abuse. Why was Cardinal O'Brien's abusive behaviour allowed to continue for decades ?

    Clerical Observer.

    1. Indeed, clerical observer! But you are writing to a Bishop! Funny. Well, i have to add that I don't accept Patrick Buckley to be a bishop. But I also don't think the other guy was a cardinal!

    2. Just a thought- back in the time of the Borgia popes abuse was rife in the church-its not a justification of wrong but it does bring up some questions about how the church has been managed through the centuries....

  3. I've always been a bit uneasy about the Cardinal O"Brien business. Yes, he was a sexual bully, and a hypocrite, and he did use his power to have his way with young clergy people. And he has been punished severely.

    I feel uneasy about the way that his accusers seem to have calculated their efforts to do him maximum damage. Why did they not come forward in years past, when they would have been listened to, inspite of what they say about O'Brien having power over them ? There will have been many opportunities for them to have had their say in the right quarters, to other bishops, to the nuncio, even to Rome. But, they did not do so, and waited until they could inflict the maximum damage on O'Brien. That sounds a bit to me like vengeance and retribution, rather than the seeking of justice.

    Next, I feel uneasy about Archbishop Cushley's increasing willingness to layer on blame on to O'Brien. He appears to want to use O'Brien as a convenient scapegoat to carry all the terrible woes of his Diocese. Cushley needs to be careful. Whilst it is right that O'Brien should pay a price for what he has done, other clergy, and particularly Bishops, need to keep in mind that 'but for the grace of God go I'. They too will have their failings and weaknesses, perhaps not the same ones, but we are all sinners and all broken and in need of God's mercy and forgiveness. One day Cushley may well need that mercy and forgiveness himself. So, beware scapegoating O'Brien too much because, Your Grace, you may need you successor to give mercy and forgiveness to you one day.

    In saying all this, I do not want to diminish O'Brien's wrong doings. But, enough is enough. He has been broken and he will continue to carry a heavy burden for the rest of his life. He does not need the continuing opprobrium of an insufficiently manly and robust smooth cheeked ex Roman Curial cleric like Cushley laid upon him any more. Actually, I bet you will find that the laity have a much more balance, merciful and charitable take on O'Brien than does Cushley. He could learn something about Christian mercy and forgiveness from his lay people.

  4. Then there was that brute Martin Kerr at St Peters abusing young boys.. :(