GLASGOW, Scotland — The resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien following accusations of sexual misconduct is an opportunity to renew faith in Jesus for the Church in Scotland, says a local archbishop.
“We will draw what conclusions and lessons we can from it, and, if anything, we will learn to trust even more fully in Jesus Christ, who is alone the Lord of the Church,” said Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow and apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.
In his homily for a March 4 Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, the archbishop, who will manage the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh until a new leader is appointed, noted that the “credibility” and “moral authority” of the Church in Scotland has been marred by Cardinal O’Brien’s behavior.
On Nov. 13, the Holy Father accepted Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation nunc pro tunc (now for then) due to the Cardinal’s upcoming 75th birthday and “indifferent health.”
However, after allegations against the cardinal from three priests and a former clergyman of sexual misconduct surfaced, Benedict XVI accepted his resignation effective Feb. 25.
Cardinal O’Brien apologized to those he offended, as well as the Catholic Church and the people of Scotland, in a March 3 statement, admitting that “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”
In his homily, Archbishop Tartaglia said that “many reproaches” have been leveled at the Church as a result of this news, but the “most stinging charge” has been that of “hypocrisy.”
“I think there is little doubt that the credibility and moral authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland has been dealt a serious blow, and we will need to come to terms with that,” he said.
Although this “sad episode” will take “a long time” to recover from, Archbishop Tartaglia encouraged his flock to resist being defeatists and to “endure it with prayer and patience and hope.”
Instead of “throw(ing) in the towel,” he said Scottish Catholics “need, rather, to renew our faithfulness in Jesus Christ and to go about our business humbly.”
Even though this news marks a “sad moment for the Church," Archbishop Tartaglia offered that there will be a “wonderful moment of hope and joy” in the election of a new pope.
Overall, he encouraged Catholics under his care to keep in mind that they “are not alone as a Church.”
“We are in communion with the See of Peter and with the whole Catholic Church,” he said. “We are in communion with the Church throughout history. We are in communion with the saints in heaven. Through that communion, we will draw strength from Jesus Christ in whom we trust.”