The Catholic Church of Scotland is facing fresh scrutiny after the Vatican ordered a halt to the appointment of new Scottish bishops until an investigation into Cardinal Keith O’Brien is complete.
• No new Scottish bishops are to be appointed until an investigation into Cardinal Keith O’Brien has been completed
• The Vatican order comes as Catholic Church comes to terms with Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation earlier this year amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour
Cardinal O’Brien resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh after admitting that his sexual conduct had “fallen below the standards expected”.
Three priests and a former priest had accused Cardinal O’Brien of inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years.
Scotland’s most senior Catholic
Scotland’s most senior Catholic, Philip Tartaglia, was informed of the development by the Vatican earlier this week.
The move was headed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was one of a clutch of candidates for the papacy before the appointment of Pope Francis.
Three disoceses - Paisley, Dunkeld and Edinburgh - will remain without a bishop as a result of Cardinal Ouellet’s order.
The Congregation of Bishops, headed by Cardinal Ouellet, has instructed the Pope’s ambassador in the UK to continue gathering evidence on Cardinal O’Brien.
It also wants an inquiry into revelations made by a serving priest in Lanarkshire, Father Matthew Despard, of the existence of a “gay mafia”, sexual bullying and open sexual relationships in the Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, Cardinal O’Brien is understood to have sought clarification over the investigation into allegations against him.
The Papal Nuncio in the UK have reportedly told him no decision has been made to remove or demote him from the clergy. SEE ALSO: Cardinal Keith O’Brien admits sexual misconduct