THE VATICAN is to investigate claims of sexual misconduct made against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, it has emerged.
The allegations against Cardinal O’Brien, once Britain’s most senior Catholic, led to his resignation as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February 2013.
At the time he admitted his sexual conduct had “fallen below the standards expected” of a member of the clergy.
News of the investigation into the alleged misconduct in the 1980s came in a letter sent to priests by Cardinal O’Brien’s successor, Archbishop Leo Cushley, this week.
In it, he says the inquiry will be carried out by Maltese bishop Charles Scicluna, who is expected to visit the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh next week to take evidence from its clergy.
The bishop was appointed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith following a request by Pope Francis.
Archbishop Cushley welcomed the move as “a positive step towards truth and eventual reconciliation”.
“This may not be an easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do,” he said in a statement.
“I am reassured by this and will be pleased to support Bishop Scicluna in any way I can.”
He added: “It is also important that the Holy See take such steps as are necessary to establish and evaluate the serious allegations which have been made over the last 18 months or so.
“In order to allow Bishop Scicluna to listen and report fully, I encourage all those concerned to cooperate serenely with him.”
Cardinal O’Brien faced allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour from three serving priests and an ex-priest.
Following his resignation, the Vatican ordered O'Brien to undertake an unspecified period of "prayer and penance".