Scottish Cardinal Blocked Investigation : Objected to Independent Review of Church Files

A disgraced Scottish cardinal halted a plan to allow independent investigators to examine church child abuse files, said a retired archbishop.

In a letter to the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, retired Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said that Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who earlier this year admitted to acts of sexual misconduct, prevented case files from being reviewed.


Archbishop Conti's letter, published online Aug. 23, was responding to an editorial in the weekly, which had criticized how the Scottish Catholic Church has dealt with clerical abuse cases. Archbishop Conti defended the record of the Scottish bishops, beginning with the introduction of robust child protection guidelines in 1999.

He then explained that as the response of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland developed over the past decade, all conference members -- except one -- agreed to a review of historical abuse cases.

"It was the intention of all but one member of the bishops' conference to commission an independent examination of the historical cases we had on file in all of our respective dioceses and publish the results, but this was delayed by the objection of the then-president of the conference," he wrote.

"Without full participation of all the dioceses, the exercise would have been faulty," wrote the archbishop, explaining why the review did not go ahead.

Cardinal O'Brien served as the conference president from 2002 until 2012, when he stepped down in preparation for his retirement.

In February, he became the focus of an international scandal. Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation with immediate effect after three priests and one former priest accused the cardinal of making homosexual advances toward them more than 20 years earlier.

Cardinal O'Brien denied the accusations at first. Then, in a March 3 statement, he apologized, admitting his conduct had "fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and a cardinal."

He declined to attend the papal conclave to elect Pope Francis, and in May the Vatican asked him to leave Scotland to spend time in prayer and reparation.

Archbishop Conti's letter was published as the Scottish Catholic Church faces fierce criticism over cases of clerical sex abuse in schools.

It follows a British Broadcasting Corp. documentary, "Sins of the Fathers," detailing the alleged abuse of children by Benedictine monks at two Catholic schools in Scotland over a 30-year period. This led Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, Scotland, a Benedictine, to issue an apology Aug. 4 for the offenses of the monks.

In his letter to the Tablet, Archbishop Conti said he expected that an independent review of the clerical abuse case files would go ahead as initially intended. "I understand that in the light of the criticisms the church has been facing, these audits will now be published," he wrote.

"I think they will go some way toward confirming Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell's remarks that the percentage of priests involved in abuse is 'tiny,' and in demonstrating the seriousness and competence with which the church in Scotland has been dealing with safeguarding in all its implications for many years," he added.

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Bruce Snowden
5 years 4 months ago
I’ve read the upsetting account of the Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien admitting to his sexual abuse of minors, his subsequent resignation and now his exile to a life of prayer and penance in personal atonement for his sins. We must pray with him for the healing of the Mystical Body of Christ he damaged, the healing made tangible in hearts and souls of the abused minor, their families and also for the Cardinal and his family. Those sexually abusive Benedictine monks another painful perversion needing atonement and healing. Please let me try to say something about its complexity as best I understand. Considering the mess, the acid reflux of the soul it causes, If I were God I might say to all such people, “Get Lost!” Fortunately I am not God and God cannot say that. He is like an Exquisite Polished Diamond, wrapped in an array of Equally Exquisite Polished Diamonds, I mean God is Love Wrapped in Love and cannot not Love! His decision to love the sinner, the criminal, is irreversible and as Passionately demonstrated he has bent over backwards to say to sinners and criminals one and all, “I love you! I am your best friend! I want you to be my best friend too!” But we resist . I wonder how far back does this “resistance,” this sexual abuse of minors by church ministers go. Indeed sexual abuse of minors by anyone! I remember reading years ago in National Catholic Reporter about a Cardinal in the 1500’s who invited a shoeshine boy to his room to shine the Cardinal’s boots. Once there the prelate attempted to seduce the boy asking the sixteen year old to allow caressing of private parts, telling the boy it was like rubbing one’s arm and not sinful! The boy fled. That Cardinal later became Pope eminent and papal , names I gladly no longer remember! So, we know the Church has had at least one pedophile pope, or was he simply Gay, as the boy was sixteen years old and post pubescent legally beyond the pedophilic age . Going very much further I wonder if Abraham, Moses, David, the Patriarchs were aware of the sexual abuse of minors by religious leaders within their ranks? Is there anything in the OT that tells? Did sexual abuse of minors by church officials also exist in the Apostolic Church as Christianity continued its Pentecostal developmental surge? Without knowing for sure, I say “Yes.” Is there anything in Christian antiquity about it? I have a gut feeling it goes all the way back to Eden’s Primordial Tree and beyond, a carnality intrinsic to homo sapiens, destined to be collectively in essence that “happy fault” sin, criminality, meriting a great redemption! St. Augustine, one of my favorite teachers might disagree, but may I suggest that the sexual abuse of minors by anyone, especially religious leadership could be (is) the consequential effect of the Original Sin committed within the Original formation of the Original Family of God, Adam and Eve, called forth perhaps, from the existing gene pool, lavishly graced by the originality of choice and prototypical to the later call of Abram, to the call of Moses and the Original Chosen of God, to the Christ and his Church, the latter in essence the perfection of the Family of God in its most perfect expression, validating what Divine Love always intended, hindered, or helped in evolutionary twists and turns, exercising freedom, FREEDOM, Love’s exquisite reflection? Unfortunately freedom sometimes cracks the mirror of human reflected love causing all kinds of distortions, called sin and crime, among them the sexual abuse of minors by church leadership, its grossest form! May God hasten to perfection the Family of God, the Church, whom we are, first formed in the Original Parenting in that special place called “Garden” yes, a garden, always a special place. No matter how, it’s a miserable mess, deserving PURGATION in whatever form, but not only “redeemable” but already “redeemed” a hard to grasp reality apart from The Divine attribute called, Unconditional Love. So it seems to me


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