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Cardinal accused of inappropriate acts

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Feb. 24 (UPI) — Four current and former priests in Scotland have accused Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien of inappropriate acts, The Observer reported Saturday.

The three current priests and one former cleric from the Diocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh have raised their allegations with the Vatican and demand O’Brien’s resignation, the newspaper said.

Sky News reported a spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church said O’Brien, who is to retire next month, “contests these claims and is taking legal advice.”

The complaints allege inappropriate behavior dating back as far as 1980, the British newspaper said. The former priest said he was a 20-year-old seminarian at St. Andrew’s College where O’Brien, his “spiritual director,” approached him inappropriately after night prayers. Another priest said O’Brien initiated inappropriate contact during a visit to his parish. A third priest said he experienced unwanted behavior after a late-night drinking session when visiting O’Brien at the archbishop’s residence and the fourth priest claims O’Brien used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.

The 74-year-old cardinal has a vote in the forthcoming papal conclave to choose Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.

The four accusers submitted their statements to the nuncio’s office the week before Benedict announced his decision to resign. The Observer said the men fear if O’Brien takes part in the papal conclave, the church will not fully address their complaints.

“It tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs,” one of them said. “The church is beautiful, but it has a dark side and that has to do with accountability. If the system is to be improved, maybe it needs to be dismantled a bit.”

An outspoken opponent of gay rights, this past week O’Brien said the church should reconsider clerical celibacy.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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