LONDON – Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, who is due to vote on Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, has been reported to the Vatican over claims of inappropriate behavior, the Observer newspaper reported on Sunday.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, contests allegations by three priests and a former priest that were sent to Rome a week before Benedict’s resignation on Feb. 11.
The four claimants, from the diocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland, reported to Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, that O’Brien had committed “inappropriate acts” going back 33 years.
One priest claims he received unwanted attention from the cardinal after a late-night drinking session. Another alleges that O’Brien used night prayers as cover for inappropriate contact, according to the paper.
The claimants, who are demanding the cleric’s resignation, say they are worried that their report will not be properly addressed if he is allowed to travel to Rome. The church “tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs,” said one of the complainants.
O’Brien, who is due to retire next month, has angered the gay community with his conservative stance on homosexuality.