Cardinal Keith O'Brien is to resign amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA, via the (UK) GuardianThings just keep getting worse for the Roman Catholic Church. Great Britain’s senior hierarch, Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has resigned over abuse allegations, as the (UK) Guardian reports (WebCite cached article):

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned with immediate effect after being accused of “inappropriate acts” towards fellow priests.

The Scottish Catholic church announced that Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal’s resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, which came after the Observer disclosed a series of allegations by three priests and one former priest [cached].

O’Brien has denied the allegations and had been expected to continue in his post as head of the Scottish Catholic church until mid-March, when he was due to retire at age 75.

But in a detailed statement, O’Brien said he resigned on Monday, and apologised to any people he had let down. He said he did not want the controversy to overshadow the election of the new pope.

Note, these accusations aren’t exactly like most of the abuse that’s been investigated and reported worldwide for more than a decade now. O’Brien’s four accusers were seminarians at the time of the abuse, three of whom are currently priests. That, of course, does not make what he did right. I’m just pointing out this is not a case of pedophilia; it means children are not the only victims of Catholic clerics’ abuse.

I also note that O’Brien is the Cardinal who, last week, announced he’d support ending the Church’s celibacy requirement for priests (cached):

The Scottish Catholic leader, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has said he would be happy for priests to be able to marry. Many priests struggle to cope with celibacy and should be able to marry and have a family, he added, in advance of a trip to Rome where he will help elect the next pope.

O’Brien told the BBC: “I’d be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should be married. It’s a free world and I realise many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood, and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family.”

He said this at the very same time he knew he’d been accused of abusing seminarians and while he was awaiting papal acceptance of his resignation … so this is not a coincidence. One wonders why he’d say such a thing, under those circumstances?

Photo credit: David Cheskin/PA, via the em>Guardian.

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