Cardinal O’Brien dies in hospital in Newcastle
SCOTLAND’S last Cardinal died in hospital in Newcastle on Monday. He received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church on Friday, which was his 80th birthday.
Dumbarton-educated Keith O’Brien (left), who resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh following revelations about his private life, has deteriorated in health since suffering a fall last month in which he broke his collar-bone and suffered a head injury.
He pulled out at the eleventh hour from attending the Papal conclave in Rome five years ago. The cardinals elected Pope Francis to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who retired from the office of Bishop of Rome, and had been living in the Borders ever since. Cardinal O’Brien did not vote.
Archbishop Leo Cushley, of St Andrews and Edinburgh, visited Cardinal O’Brien in hospital in Newcastle on Friday to administer the sacrament and sent a message to more than 200 “brother priests and deacons” to tell them of his deterioration.
Archbishop Cushley told them: “I went to see him a few weeks ago, and he barely recognised me. However, today, I learned that the doctors at his hospital believe that his condition is not improving and that he may not have long to live. Please remember him in your prayers.”
Cardinal O’Brien, a former pupil of St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton, was ordained a priest in April 1965, became Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh 20 years later and was made a Cardinal in 2003.
But he resigned as Archbishop in 2013 and retired from public life a week later following allegations about his sexual conduct that revolved around his relationships with four men dating back to the 1980s. He said on his resignation: “To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.”