Card. O’Brien’s resignation – Cardinal Electors down to 115

We read that – because of allegations “of inappropriate behaviour towards priests dating from the 1980s” – His Eminence Keith Card. O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, is resigning his see and will not participate in the conclave even though he has not yet turned 75.

115 Electors now.


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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Several points which I have put on my blog over the last few days, One, why did these priests wait for 33 years to report this? Second, why publish such accusations days before a conclave starts? Thirdly, why did the Cardinal make such a public statement about marriage if he knew about he was already resigning, as that statement caused much attention? The Pope accepted his resignation last week, on the 18th according to many sources this morning. Of course, it is all over the international news.

    God protect our Pope in these last days. Also, speculation must stop about anything else, as I have here.

  2. Charivari Rob says:

    I thought it was 118 – 1 (turns 80 before Feb 1) – 1 (Cdnl O’Brien) equal 116. Did I miss other news?

  3. sw85 says:

    I’d be interested in a run-down of the Cardinal-electors and their relative orthodoxy/rigidity/conservatism/whatever you’d want to call it. I imagine the Cardinalate is overall better now than it was when Benedict was elected, but I’m just not sure.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    It is definitely 115. Fr. Z is correct, as usual and mirrors several news reports.

  5. Fr AJ says:

    Charivari Rob, one of the Cardinal-electors is too sick to travel.

  6. acardnal says:

    I believe this means that Britain will have no representation in the Conclave.

  7. Tim Ferguson says:

    only 77 votes needed for election now.

  8. NBW says:

    May the Holy Spirit guide the remaining Cardinals to choose a Pope that will clean up the Church.

  9. Random Friar says:

    Oof. This might put added pressure on Cardinal Mahony.

  10. eulogos says:

    I think we ought to remember that Cardinal O’Brien has most likely long repented of, confessed, and been absolved for these offenses. I think we ought to understand them as the sad result of lonliness and human weakness. I think we ought to understand that he did believe what he wrote in defense of marriage. He must be consumed with shame right now. Can we spare some prayers for him? Is there really one of us who will not be ashamed when everything is laid bare on judgment day?
    Susan Peterson

  11. Stumbler but trying says:

    “” I tendered my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh to Pope Benedict XVI some months ago. I was happy to know that he accepted my resignation ‘nunc pro tunc’ – (now – but to take effect later) on 13 November 2012,” Cardinal O’Brien said in a Feb. 25 statement.

    I read yesterday on CNA that our Holy Father was already considering the allegations against Cardinal O’Brian. After reading some of the reports today, “the Holy Father has now decided to accept the said resignation definitively.”

    After reflecting on this I remain grateful to our Holy Father for being so generous and so gracious towards those who are accused of wrong doing. He made no public fuss but quietly set things into motion. Thank you Lord Jesus for having given us such a wonderful Papa.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Supertradmom, it appears that the complaints about the Cardinal in Scotland were submitted the week before the news about Pope Benedict XVI, so the timing is probably a coincidence.

    Random Friar, the only kind of pressure this will put on Cardinal Mahony is pressure not to appear to be like the Cardinal of Scotland. This event will almost certainly guarantee that Cardinal Mahony shows up in Rome for the conclave. If his appearance in Rome wasn’t a sure thing before, it is now.

    Susan, does that mean I can rob a bank now, and get away with it if I’m properly contrite in my sad case of “human weakness” next week? It sounds exactly like this is what you’re claiming.

    And Stumbler, I agree. It can be done discretely as long as what’s needed is done. The problem is that before Pope Benedict XVI, a lot of what needed to happen simply didn’t get done. The most salient feature of Pope Benedict’s reign has been HONESTY. Above all, Pope Benedict has been a truth-teller, and this has been an enormous service he has given the Church. If the next pope is as truthful as this one, or even close to it, we will be in good shape going forward.

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    Sexual abuse of the people under one’s care is not a trivial matter, Susan. That’s why I used the example of robbing a bank, also not trivial. When a great sin like this has been committed, there is the matter of sacramental forgiveness, yes, but there is also the temporal damage that’s been done, and it’s enormous in both examples. Temporal damage comes in many forms. There’s the material fact that the sin has occurred; there are the lies and threats around it; there are the people hurt by it; there is the damage to the Church; there is damage to society; there is the offense to God that has been made. Sacramental absolution is the remedy for the offense to God and the Church; the remainder must be worked out in this world and in purgatory.

    The example of robbing a bank is apt, even if more concrete. If a bank is robbed, and the robber takes the money back the following week, and asks to be forgiven, the bank manager may forgive him. But there are other prices to be paid. Always. To omit those prices in any account of the event is to misunderstand the event.

  14. An American Mother says:

    Maybe the definition is different in canon law, but in civil law “nunc pro tunc” doesn’t mean “now to take effect later”. It means “now for then”, i.e. backdated to the earlier date, i.e. 13 Nov. 2012.
    I think CNA has it wrong – subject to correction for somebody in the field.
    Absolutely second your praise of the Holy Father. He does the right thing with no fanfare.

  15. New Sister says:

    @ stumbler but trying – I agree. Our Holy Father is well named, isn’t he? Joseph – gentle, righteous, & good.

  16. An American Mother says:

    *from* somebody in the field. Sheesh, I should read the previews sometime.

  17. Stumbler but trying says:

    @ American Mother…thanks for clarification. Let’s pray for Cardinal O’Brien since he will have much to ponder.
    @ New Sister…yes, a fitting name Joesph. I have always loved St. Joseph.

    I will post this link here since I was thinking rather than speculate about the “whys and whens,” let’s pray for our Cardinal electors as they will be under the microscope, scrutinized and pressured more than ever before by the world as they prepare to gather in Rome.

    The link to adopting a Cardinal elector…
    I think it a sweet and wonderful idea. I adopted mine last night. ^^ Makes me happy to see such sweetness amid all the negative stuff that passes for news these days.

  18. dans0622 says:

    I also do not understand the Cardinal’s usage of “nunc pro tunc.” A resignation has to be accepted within three months of its submission (c. 189.3) but the Pope often does not do this, utilizing the notion of accepting it now/nunc (say, a year after it was submitted) for then/tunc (the point in the past when the submission was actually made). I’ve never heard of a resignation being accepted now but only effective later…the Pope’s resignation being a different matter, since his was not accepted by anyone.

  19. Cyril says:

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote back in 1969 that, ” The Church will become small and will have to start fresh more or less from the beginning.”

    It seems to me that this has started to come true with His pontificate and moving into the future now. Between O’Brian and Mahoney, Holy Mother Church seems to be purging Herself. How many more are going to resign before conclave starts?

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Why do some people assume guilt? He did not apologize for anything specific in his resignation address and denies the allegations. And, I am way too suspicious as to the timing and datedness of these allegations.

    That he resigned before the media got the info is clear and that the Pope accepted his resignation before the media circus is also clear.

    If he is innocent, he deserves our great empathy. If he is guilty, well, I would not want someone of forty years ago throwing up dirt in my face. I would venture to guess that most of us are not what we were 30 or 40 years ago.

  21. Michael_Thoma says:

    Patriarch(MajorArchbishop)-Emeritus Lobymr Cardinal Husar turns 80 tomorrow (Feb 26) and will be ineligible to vote.

  22. pmullane says:

    Supertradmum is correct, Cardinal O’Brien has his failings, and in many ways is unsuited to the episcopate, and to the office of Cardinal, and there have been problems with his time in Edinburgh, but at this stage I’m not finding these allegations convincing at all. There is a great deal that we don’t know about this situation, but something doesn’t smell right to me. Prayers for The Cardinal, and for the Church.

  23. jessicahoff says:

    I wish people would remember that the presumption of innocence applies even to Catholics of an orthodox hue.

  24. Southern Catholic says:

    Let us not forget that Cardinal O’Brien went had an interview with the BBC to announce that he believe the church needs to end celibacy. He isn’t completely innocent in bringing scandal to the church.

  25. Bill Foley says:

    I did read that Cardinal O’Brien recently came out against mandatory celibacy. No surprise.

    May I suggest that you all read Fr. Oko’s essay With the Pope against the Homoheresy.

  26. Giuseppe says:

    Despite the trepidation I often fear before laying bare my conscience to my confessor and to my God, I trust that when I beg for forgiveness that each understands that I am a sinner. Were my lifetime of transgressions laid before the public, I would hide in humiliation, as there is nothing more unforgiving than the judgmental public. Why are we sinners so quick to cast stones at each other? Pray for Cardinal O’Brien that he find God’s peace in this trying time for him and that his flock is comforted by the Holy Spirit. It would be nice if Cardinal Mahoney took a message from Cardinal O’Brien’s humble resignation. What a fine sacrifice were Cardinal Mahoney to go into seclusion during the conclave to pray for the church and for a new pope instead of going into conclave to vote.

  27. Bill Foley says:

    I am quite shocked to say the least that Supertradum has commented that what Cardinal O’Brien did or may have done 30 or 40 years ago is no big deal. IT IS A BIG DEAL if he engaged in or made any attempt to engage in sexual relations with young men. This would mean that he suffers from same-sex-attraction disorder (SSAD) and that he is part of the homomafia in the Catholic Church. Please read Father Dariusz Oko’s article “With the Pope against the Homoheresy” to see all of the documentation on this issue plus the damage those priests, bishops, and cardinals with SSAD have done to Mother Church. Simply enter FATHER+OKO+HOMOHERESY into the Internet search engine to find the article.

    We laity must do everything in our power to see that the instructions of the Holy See regarding SSAD and seminaries is put into effect.
    The Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders published by the Congregation for Catholic Education clearly stated: “Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.” This clearly means that someone with SSAD cannot be ordained.

    In Benedict XVI’s Light of the World of 2010, we find as an afterword a very important passage about homosexuality and priesthood. These words of the Holy Father are, in a way, a comment on the earlier documents of the Holy See. It seems he is speaking “from the heart”, and is quite explicit:
    “Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy
    became a sort of pretext for bringing people into priesthood who don’t want to get married anyway. For, in the end, their attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off centre, and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoken.
    The Congregation for Education issued a decision a few years ago to the effect that homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, from the intrinsic nature of priestly being. The selection of candidates to the priesthood must therefore be very careful. The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality”[25]

  28. Supertradmum says:

    Bill Foley, you misunderstand me. These priests had 33 years to make a complaint against this Cardinal and waited until two weeks before the conclave. I am sorry, but that is totally suspicious to me.

    Of course, I am totally against homosexuals in the clergy and in seminaries and have written much about this. My comment had nothing to do with a moral judgement but a political one.

    You obviously have not read my blog where I have written much on the abuses of seminaries still taking in homosexuals, etc.

    The Cardinal is denying these allegations. If he is guilty, then justice will run its course, but even you have to admit the timing is rather odd and revealing.

    There are many people who want to bring down the Church and I have known two tragic cases where innocent priests had their reputations ruined by false accusations.

    You also have not read my consistent comments on this blog on sexual abuse, as four members of my family were abused. I do not say anything lightly.

    And, I have lost one job for standing up to hierarchy about homosexuals in a Catholic institution. I have personal experience of the lavender mafia. But, this may not be such a case.

  29. Bill Foley says:


    And I find it very suspicious that Cardinal O’Brien has come out against mandatory celibacy. No cleric with real spiritual depth is going to support such an idea. All one has to do is read, study, and meditate on what the modern popes have said about celibacy. It is a gift to the Church from a loving God.

    And it is a big deal if he is guilty.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    This is out of line and evil…pray for this man and for the Church here in GB.

    Look at the Daily Mail cover. It is disgusting.

  31. Supertradmum says:

    Bill Foley, I too am a sinner and you did not address any of my comments. As to celibacy, that is discussed here frequently because of many things, such as the Ordinariate coming in as well as the possibility of a Lutheran Ordianariate. Of course, I am totally for a celibate clergy, and disagree with him, but you are judging without facts, just as the secular media is doing, the main point.

    You should pray for all involved.

  32. gambletrainman says:

    SW85 and Supertradmum:

    Regardless of what our personal opinions are, we NEED to pray really, really hard to the Holy Ghost to send us a holy and unsullied person to be the next pope, because, as soon as the next pope is elected, you can bet your bottom dollar that. rightly or wrongly, because of all the hoopla that’s going on, the liberal “catholic” media as well as the secular media will start digging, not with shovels, but with backhoes, to try to uncover some dirt against the newly elected. Of course, their opinionsdon’t amount to a hill of beans, but they know how to handle gullible readers (and tv watchers) and turn the popular tide against the “victim”, whomever he may be.

  33. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. For the conclave, B16, and the next pope, I’ve been praying the double novena to the Holy Spirit recommended by Dr. Thursday over on his blog. Every little prayer helps.

    2. If Cardinal O’Brien is innocent, he needs our prayers. If he was guilty of such behavior, he needs them more. Either way, one would suggest an appeal to the prayers of Bl. Terence Albert O’Brien, bishop and martyr.

    3. Supertradmum is right to point out the spiritual dimension here, even if you want to take it wrong or even if you want to assume the worst about O’Brien. From the secular point of view, even in the 1980’s there wasn’t anything illegal about an adult priest acting “inappropriately” with an adult priest. Unethical, yes; imprudent, yes; sinful, yes. But nothing criminal under UK law; so the confessional and canon law are the only applicable standards to hold up.

  34. robtbrown says:

    I think we ought to understand them as the sad result of loneliness and human weakness.
    Susan Peterson

    It is certainly true that we are all weak. Further, the state of affairs in seminaries in 1980 might not have encouraged such activity, but it certainly was not discouraged.

    But one point: The sexual sin of someone with a vow of celibacy or chastity has the aspect of sacrilege.

  35. acardnal says:

    Supertradmum wrote, “Why do some people assume guilt? He did not apologize for anything specific in his resignation address and denies the allegations. And, I am way too suspicious as to the timing and datedness of these allegations.

    Well, the Cardinal finally made a statement and admitted his ” sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”

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