Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned last week as the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, has admitted to inappropriate sexual behavior earlier in his career, a week after allegations surfaced involving three young priests and a seminarian.
“I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal,” O’Brien, who is noted for his antigay remarks, said in a statement posted online today, The New York Times reports. He also offered an apology and said he will play no further public role in the church.
Last weekend The Observer, a U.K. newspaper, reported on allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with the four men, with the earliest instance occurring in 1980. “The first was a seminarian when Cardinal O’Brien, then a priest, served as a powerful supervisory figure in two Scottish seminaries, the Times reports. “The others were young priests; it is not clear exactly when in the 1980s they say they were subject to his unwanted advances.”
During the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, O’Brien took an ultraconservative stance on homosexuality, the paper reports. “Abandoning the relatively tolerant approach to the issue he had adopted in the years before he donned a cardinal’s red hat, he condemned homosexuality as immoral, and as a ‘grotesque subversion,’” the Times notes.
He is the highest-ranking figure in the Roman Catholic Church to admit to sexual misconduct in recent years.