CARDINAL O’Brien should have been ordered to undergo psychological treatment instead of three months of prayer and penance according to the four priests whose accusations of sexual misconduct led to the resignation of the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
In the wake of the Vatican’s decision to order Britain’s most senior cleric to leave Scotland, the men insisted that the cardinal remained a danger and that stripping him of his red hat should not be ruled out by the Pope.
One of the priests said: “Keith is extremely manipulative and needs help to be challenged out of his denial. If he does not receive treatment, I believe he is still a danger to himself and to others.”
The four men are demanding an investigation into O’Brien’s “predatory behaviour” and insist that despite making formal complaints to the Papal Nuncio three months ago they have not been told if there is a formal investigation into the cardinal.
Lenny, which is not his real name, is an ex-priest who said he became involved in an abusive relationship with O’Brien.
Yesterday he was quoted as saying: “Removing O’Brien from Scotland might temporarily reduce the embarrassment to the Church authorities, but this story has not been fully told yet. We have been patient, but I’m still waiting to be told what, if any, process the Church has in mind.”
Another priest said: “They’re all passing the buck on this. It’s a smokescreen. We need an investigation and Keith needs to be challenged by professionals to acknowledge the damage he has done to people, himself and the Church.”
Previously a spokesman for the Catholic Church said no-one had the authority to challenge a cardinal except the Pope. One of the complainants said that attitude was “farcical” and continued: “I don’t care about red hats, but if the red hat is shoring up his perceived power, it has to go.”
Yesterday it was reported that while there is no official investigation by the Catholic Church in Scotland Bishop John Toal of Argyll has been in contact with the complainants. He said: “It’s been hard listening to what’s being said. But it’s important we hear what they’re saying and the gravity of the situation. If I can help in some way. I will.”
The four complainants were quoted as saying that any investigation should be about achieving justice and not vengeance. One complainant said: “I will give forgiveness if asked as long as the damage has been recognised. At times we don’t do ourselves a lot of good by throwing pardon around like confetti without a change of heart.
“I am angry at the system that licked his boots and allowed him to get on with it.”
An investigation into Cardinal O’Brien’s behaviour was supported yesterday by Professor Werner Jeanrond, a Catholic theologian and master of St Benet’s Hall at Oxford University.
He said: “Instead of dealing with issues we are constantly presented with this half-baked solution of removing people. It is not a grown-up Church handling this case.”