Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Facing allegations of inappropriate acts with other priests, the UK’s most senior catholic cleric, the anti-gay Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has resigned and apologised for his “failures”.

On Monday, the Catholic Church revealed in a statement that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted O’Brien’s resignation as far back as 18 February.

The cardinal said that he had tendered his resignation in November, before the scandal came to light, as he was “approaching the age of seventy-five” and was “at times in indifferent health”.

O’Brien stated: “Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God.” While he has denied the allegations against him, he added: “For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended.”

Britain’s Observer newspaper reported over the weekend that a dossier of claims by three priests and a former priest against the 74-year-old cardinal accusing him of sexual impropriety was sent to the Pope earlier this month.

O’Brien has been a vocal opponent of the legalisation of same-sex marriage and gay adoption and has stated that gay people are “captives of sexual aberrations”.

Writing about the latest scandal to rock the Vatican, British human rights activist Peter Tatchell slammed the Catholic Church for its “hypocrisy” and said that the “church is hotbed of homosexuality and homophobia”.

“Cardinal O’Brien condemned homosexuality as a grave sin and was a long-time opponent of gay equality. He supported homophobic discrimination in law, including the current ban on same-sex marriage,” said Tatchell.

“In the light of these allegations, his stance looks hypocritical. He appears to have preached one thing in public while doing something different in private.

“Several other prominent opponents of equal marriage are guilty of double standards and vulnerable to similar exposure. They include anti-gay clergy and politicians,” added Tatchell.

He commented that “It is estimated that around 40% of Catholic priests in Britain are gay, which makes the church’s opposition to gay equality so two-faced and absurd.

“Recent revelations in Italy have alleged the existence of a gay mafia within the Vatican, including senior cardinals and other Vatican officials, and their participation in gay bars, clubs, saunas, chat rooms and male prostitution services.

“The Vatican is shamelessly championing homophobia and the denial of legal equality to gay people, while hosting a hotbed of secret, guilt-ridden clerical homosexuality,” said Tatchell.

Consternation over a secret 300 page report that includes claims of a gay ‘network’ in the Vatican is said to have played a part in the Pope deciding to resign this month.

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