Top Catholic cardinal accused of “inappropriate behaviour”
Britain's top Roman Catholic clergyman has been reported to the Vatican over accusations of inappropriate behaviour.
The Observer reports that three priests and one former priest have filed a complaint with the Vatican over Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh and the most senior Roman Catholic clergyman in Britain.
They are demanding the immediate resignation of the cardinal, who is due to retire next month.
The allegations go back 33 years, when the first complainant says that he received an "inappropriate approach" from O'Brien after night prayers.
The complainant, who was then an 18-year-old seminarian, was later ordained as a priest, but gave up the priesthood upon O'Brien's promotion to bishop.
"I knew then he would always have power over me," he told the newspaper. "It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity."
One of the other complainants says that he was visited by the Archbishop in his parish and inappropriate contact took place between the two of them.
A third statement from another complainant claims that he had to deal with "unwanted behaviour" by the cardinal after a late-night drinking session.
The fourth complainant says that O'Brien is "very charismatic" and that he had inappropriate contact with him after night prayers and on at least one other occasion.
The Archbishop is due to go to Rome soon to vote for the successor to Pope Benedict XVI and the complainants are concerned that their report will not be addressed properly if he is allowed to go.
One of the complainants told the Observer that the church "tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs.
"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."
A spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church has said that the Archbishop contests the claims and is considering taking legal action.
The Archbishop, who was named Stonewall's Bigot of the Year in 2012, is a strong opponent of gay marriage which he has said "shames" the country and which he has compared to child abuse and slavery.