THE VATICAN has finally agreed to demands to launch a formal inquiry into Cardinal Keith O’Brien following allegations of sexual misconduct, it has been reported.
The church is set to undergo a high level inspection -
known as an apostolic visitation - in response to the claims made
against Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric, who resigned from the
diocese of Edinburgh and St Andrews in February.
Archbishop Antonio Mennini is understood to have revealed the inspection when he met with a former priest, known only as Lenny, who accused the cardinal of making sexual advances towards him when he was a seminarian.
alleged victim said: “The archbishop told me the holy see had decided
there would be an investigation into all the allegations. Anyone
affected would be able to give evidence. If it is judged that there is
sufficient evidence, then it would go to another, deeper process in
Rome. I am glad the Catholic church has faced up to the need for a
process to determine the truth,” he said. “If this story had not gone
public in February, if there had not been consistent calls for action,
we would not have got to this point. But it’s now important to
scrutinise the scope and remit of the visitation. It must address Keith
O’Brien’s behaviour, but also examine whether any promotions were
awarded to the cardinal’s cronies.”
Lenny revealed the nuncio said the visitator of the inspection should be the new archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
O’Brien’s successor is expected to be announced later this month, and insiders have speculated he will be replaced by a Scot currently working in Rome.
added: “I told Archbishop Mennini that the process was not likely to
reach the truth if it was conducted by the new archbishop, whoever that
turns out to be. Priests are hardly likely to be completely frank with
someone who holds their lives in his hands for years to come. I hope the
Tom Doyle, a senior canon lawyer who worked at
the nunciature in Washington before representing abuse victims all over
the world in cases against the Catholic church, agreed that O’Brien’s
successor should not be hired.
He said: “The whole point is that it’s
someone from outside. If they appoint O’Brien’s successor to lead the
investigation, they are going to look like fools.
“It would be ridiculous to appoint the cardinal’s successor.”
In a statement in March,
O’Brien acknowledged wrong-doing within the church. He said: “My sexual
conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest,
archbishop and cardinal.”
Senior figures in Rome have said the
apostolic visitation is a way of dealing not just with the cardinal, but
with the more general accusations across the church in Scotland.
Robert Gahl, an associate professor of ethics at the Pontifical
University of the Holy Cross in Rome, said: “Given that the Cardinal
O’Brien case seems to be a salient feature of a larger network of
dysfunction, an apostolic visitation could be a very appropriate way of
addressing the larger problem.”
Mr Doyle has expressed his concern that the forthcoming visit will not
investigate the situation sufficiently after Ireland’s apostolic
visitation in 2011 following widespread child abuse was a “total farce”.
He said: “I don’t think an apostolic visitation will achieve much. In
my experience of sexual abuse – which dates back 30 years – the only
significant truth that has ever arisen has been when totally independent
investigations have been carried out. In America, it’s been
grand juries. In Ireland, it’s been statutory commissions. If they are
really looking into alleged abuse by Keith O’Brien, the only way to do
it is to appoint outside investigators who have free rein. But they
The cardinal resigned from his post in February and was removed from Scotland for six months by the church.