Former head of Catholic Church in Britain dies after fall

Former head of Catholic Church in Britain dies after fall

THE FORMER most senior cleric of the Catholic Church in Britain has passed away aged 80 after suffering a fall.

Cardinal Keith O’ Brien was taken to hospital in Newcastle after suffering a severe head injury brought about by a fall last month in which he also broke his collarbone.

His successor administered the last rites on Friday, on the eve of his 80th birthday.

His passing was announced early this morning.

The Co. Antrim native resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 2013 after apologising for sexual misconduct in his past.

Three priests and a former priest alleged improper conduct in the 1980’s.

Having initially contested the allegations, Cardinal O’ Brien later apologised upon his retirement: “I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop, cardinal. To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness,” he said.

Pope Francis accepted his resignation and stripped him of his duties.

O’ Brien was born in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim in 1938 and was educated in Scotland.

He was ordained as a priest in 1965.

In 1985, he was ordained as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and became Cardinal in 2003.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the following about the life of Cardinal O’ Brien: “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.”