Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Cardinal O'Brien's will asks for forgiveness for all he offended

Cardinal Keith O'Brien Image copyright PA
Image caption The coffin of Cardinal Keith O'Brien was taken into the church in Newcastle

The UK's most eminent Catholic clergyman told the funeral of Cardinal Keith O'Brien that he had used his will to ask for forgiveness from those he had offended while alive.

The 80-year-old resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 2013 after admitting sexual misconduct.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, read the words of Cardinal O'Brien during the Requiem Mass.

The funeral took place in Newcastle where the priest had lived.

He became ill last month after falling and died in hospital on 19 March.

Cardinal O'Brien was formerly the Catholic Church's most senior cleric in Britain until the scandal in which three priests and a former priest made allegations against him.

Cardinal Nichols said: "In recent days, the life of Cardinal Keith has been laid bare.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cardinal O'Brien apologised to the church and to the people of Scotland

"We all know its lights and its darkness, we need not spend time talking about them even more for he has given us the key words.

"In his last will and testament he wrote: 'I ask forgiveness of all I have offended in this life. I thank God for the many graces and blessings he has given me especially the Sacrament of Holy Orders.'

"Today, as we prayer for the repose of his soul, we also pray for all those he offended and ask God to strengthen them at this time."

He will be buried on Friday at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh in the grave of his mother and father, in accordance with his own wishes, the church said.

Cardinal O'Brien, who went into hospital last month after a fall, resigned from his position in February 2013 after three priests and a former priest alleged improper conduct during the 1980s.

He initially contested the allegations but later apologised, saying his sexual conduct had "fallen beneath the standards" expected of him.

He had been a vehement critic of gay marriage, describing it as "grotesque", and spoke out against same-sex relationships.

Announcing his death, his successor as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Archbishop Leo Cushley, said: "In life, Cardinal O'Brien may have divided opinion - in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down.

"May he rest in peace."

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