Cardinal O’Brien told to say sorry to gay people

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cARDINAL Keith O’Brien should apologise to gay people for the “vicious and cruel” things he has said about them, a leading gay-rights group has said.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said his organisation noted “with sadness that the cardinal didn’t find it in him to apologise to gay people, their families and friends for the harm his vicious and cruel language caused”.

That view was echoed by veteran activist Peter Tatchell, who urged the cardinal “to show true remorse for his homophobia and hypocrisy by saying sorry to the gay community for the hatred and harm he has caused – and by publicly repenting his homophobia”.

Cardinal O’Brien, 74, had been a staunch advocate of Catholic teaching against homosexuality, calling same-sex marriage “a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and saying plans to legalise it would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”. Last year, Stonewall named him “Bigot of the Year”.

Despite his views on same-sex relationships, he had been long known for his relatively liberal stance on some social issues. Shortly after he became a cardinal in 2003, he made an unusual public pledge to defend Catholic Church teaching, having previously suggested there should be more open discussion on issues such as the requirement of celibacy for priests and the Church’s ban on contraception.