IN perhaps the last appointment of his Papacy, Benedict XVI has named Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow as the Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh following the scandal involving Cardinal O’Brien.
The “caretaker” role will mean the archbishop will govern the archdiocese but will have no role in the Vatican’s investigation into complaints raised about the cardinal’s alleged “inappropriate behaviour” towards four priests – accusations he contests, but which prompted the Pope to accept his retirement on Monday.
Archbishop Tartaglia said Catholics in the archdiocese were going through “painful and distressing times”.
In a statement to the archdiocese, he said: “You have lost your Cardinal Archbishop in the most difficult of circumstances. I am so sorry for everyone involved and I assure them of my prayers. I too feel pained and distressed.
“The people of the Archdiocese are having to bear the impact of these sad events as you go about your daily lives in your communities and at work.
“You have to cope with disturbing media reports and you have to face the questions, the critical comments, the unkind remarks and the jibes.
“I want you to know that Bishop Stephen Robson, the priests of the archdiocese and I are one with you in these unfortunate circumstances, and thank you for your faithfulness and love of the Church. At this time, we need more than ever to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ who alone is our Saviour, our Good Shepherd and our Consoler.
“With the grace of God, I will do my very best to oversee and govern the archdiocese until the appointment of a new archbishop. I have appointed Bishop Robson as my delegate in the day-to-day governance of the archdiocese.”
Yesterday, Archbishop Tartaglia, who is expected to say mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh today, also said: “These are painful and distressing times for the archdiocese. I ask for your prayers.”
The Scottish Catholic media office announced yesterday that Cardinal O’Brien is now the Archbishop Emeritus of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and no longer has any role in the governance of a diocese.
Bishop Robson will remain as auxiliary bishop and will assist Archbishop Tartaglia in the running of the diocese.
The Catholic Church in Scotland has been rocked by the scandal, in which Cardinal O’Brien was accused “inappropriate behaviour” towards four priests during the 1980s.
The men, three, said to be priests in the archdiocese and one who has left the priesthood, made their complaint to the papal nuncio in London early this month, before the Pope announced his resignation.
They went public in a bid to stop the cardinal attending the conclave to elect a new pope. He had been expected to attend yesterday’s event in St Peter’s, but instead remains at home in Edinburgh.