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Cardinal's Resignation A Wake Up Call For Church To Address Difficult Questions

posted 25 Feb 2013, 12:17 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 25 Feb 2013, 12:18 ]

The resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric who faces allegations of "inappropriate" behaviour, is disappointing and should prompt the Church to face difficult questions, says poet Sarah de Nordwall.

EDINBURGHSCOTLANDUNITED KINGDOM  (ITN) - A well-known Catholic poet voiced her disappointment on Monday (February 25) after the sudden resignation of Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric.

With just three days left before Pope Benedict becomes the first pope in some six centuries to step down, he accepted the resignation of Britain's only cardinal elector, Archbishop Keith O'Brien, who was to have voted for the next pope.

O'Brien, who retains the title of cardinal, quit a day after rejecting allegations he behaved in an inappropriate way with priests, and said he would not take part in the election of Pope Benedict's replacement.

The cardinal said he had tendered his resignation some months ago, ahead of his 75th birthday in March and because he was suffering from 'indifferent health'.

He could have attended the conclave despite his resignation, but said he would stay away because he did not want media attention to be focused on himself instead of the process of choosing the next leader of the 1.2 billion-member Church.

Catholic poet, pro-life supporter and member of Britain's 'Catholic Voices' group, which represents the Church's views in the media, Sarah De Nordwall says O'brien's resignation is a sad development.

"The cardinal has been such a strongly outspoken advocate for the rights of the unborn, and it's just a shame that someone with so much transparency around important issues hasn't really been very transparent about himself," she said.

O'Brien, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, has been reported to the Vatican over allegations of inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years, according to Britain's Observer newspaper.

The cardinal, who last week advocated allowing Catholic priests to marry as many found it difficult to cope with celibacy, rejected the allegations and was seeking legal advice, his spokesman said.

De Nordwall said the Catholic Church has some difficult questions to address.

"I think we'll wait and see how these allegations are looked into, and then I think we'll have to look at how we deal with people struggling with same-sex attraction," De Nordwall said.

"I think we'll have to ask ourselves some really honest questions about that and pray for all the people involved," she added.

The Observer newspaper, which gave little detail on the claims, said three priests and a former priest, from a Scottish diocese, had complained over incidents dating back to 1980.

One said the cardinal formed an "inappropriate relationship" with him while another complained of unwanted behaviour by O'Brien after a late-night drinking session.

Last year, O'Brien's comments labeling gay marriage a "grotesque subversion" landed him with a "Bigot of the Year" award from British gay rights group Stonewall.