Shamed cardinal must leave Scotland to atone
THE Vatican has ordered a disgraced Scottish cardinal to leave Scotland for several months to pray and atone for sexual misconduct, issuing a rare public sanction against a "prince of the church" and the first such punishment meted out by Pope Francis.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigned as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and recused himself from the March conclave that elected Francis after a newspaper reported unnamed priests' allegations that he had acted inappropriately towards them.
The cardinal subsequently acknowledged he had engaged in unspecified sexual misbehaviour, for which he made a public apology and promised to stay out of the church's everyday life.
Yesterday, the Vatican said Cardinal O'Brien would leave Scotland for several months of "spiritual renewal, prayer and penance" for the same reasons he decided not to participate in the conclave.
Such a sanction is very much in keeping with the church's legal tradition of making a public reparation for a scandal done to the church, said Austen Ivereigh, director of Catholic Voices, a British-based Catholic advocacy group.