The Cardinal, who resigned as five years ago following revelations about his private life, has been bedridden since suffering a fall last month in which he broke his collar-bone and suffered a head injury.
His successor, Archbishop Leo Cushley, visited him at hospital in Newcastle on Friday to administer the sacrament and sent a message to more than 200 “brother priests and deacons” to tell them of his deterioration.
“I went to see him a few weeks ago, and he barely recognised me,” said Archbishop Cushley. “However, today, I learned that the doctors at his hospital believe that his condition is not improving and that he may not have long to live. Please remember him in your prayers.”
Cardinal O’Brien was ordained a priest in April 1965, became Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh 20 years later and was made a Cardinal in 2003.
But he resigned as Archbishop in 2013 and retired from public life a week later following allegations about his sexual conduct relating to his relationships with four men dating back to the 1980s.
He said on his resignation: “To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.”
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