Over the weekend, allegations came to light that the United Kingdom’s most senior Catholic official, Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, had engaged in inappropriate behavior with priests over the past few decades. The full details of the allegations are not yet known, but one priest alleges that O’Brien had an extended relationship with him that resulted in the need for long-term psychological counseling and others acknowledge unwanted sexual contact. Though O’Brien contested the claims, he has officially resigned from the Church, effective Sunday. He was due to retire next month anyway, but now he will not be able to represent Britain in the papal conclave to replace Pope Benedict XVI.
O’Brien has been a virulent opponent of LGBT equality, having launched a “war on gay marriage” last year, describing same-sex marriage as a “grotesque subversion.” In November, the gay rights group Stonewall unapologetically named him “bigot of the year” for his constant condemnations of gay people and their families. Just last week, O’Brien reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, but surprisingly suggested that straight priests ought to be allowed to marry.