Cardinal O'Brien faces Vatican inquiry over sexual conduct
Outspoken anti-gay cleric admits: 'My behaviour fell below the standards expected of me'
CARDINAL Keith O'Brien, who until his resignation last week was head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, is expected to face a Vatican inquiry after finally admitting to inappropriate sexual conduct.
O'Brien was an outspoken opponent of homosexuality from the pulpit and when last month The Observer reported claims of sexual impropriety towards fellow priests, dating back 30 years, he denied them.
Yesterday, however, he admitted that his "conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal" and apologised to the Church and the people of Scotland. He said he had initially contested the allegations due to their "anonymous and non-specific nature".
The 74-year-old, who as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh was Britain's most senior Catholic cleric, should have been with other cardinals now gathered at the Vatican to chose the next Pope. Instead, he faces a Vatican inquiry once the new Pope has been picked.
As the BBC's religious correspondent Robert Pigott notes, the Cardinal's statement exposes him to charges of hypocrisy, sitting "uneasily with his years of outspoken denunciation of homosexual relationships".
The statement came on the day a former priest who went public with claims about O'Brien's sexual behaviour told yesterday's Observer he was disappointed with the Catholic Church's response to the allegations. He said he sensed the "cold disapproval of the Church hierarchy for daring to break ranks," adding: "I feel like if they could crush me, they would".
According to the BBC, the results of the Vatican's inquiry into O'Brien's behaviour may never be made public. ·