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Scottish church: cardinal blocked abuse report

August 23, 2013

LONDON (AP) — A Scottish cardinal blocked an inquiry into cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic church of Scotland a year before resigning over his own sexual misconduct, the church said Friday.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in February after unidentified priests alleged he acted inappropriately toward them, objected to a church review of abuse allegations commissioned in 2011, retired archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti said in a letter to Friday’s edition of the Catholic newspaper the Tablet.

O’Brien was the only member of the Bishop’s Conference to pull out of the review, and the project was halted because of his objection, Conti added.

The Scottish Catholic Church confirmed that O’Brien withdrew from the probe in 2012, about a year after it began. The church said the inquiry had aimed to examine data relating to abuse in the Scottish church from 1952 to 2012. But “without the participation of all the dioceses, a ‘national audit’ was not possible, so the analysis was stopped,” the church said in a statement.

O’Brien, once Britain’s highest-ranking Catholic leader, had to step down and recuse himself from the March conclave that elected Pope Francis after the Guardian newspaper reported the misconduct allegations against him. He apologized and acknowledged he had engaged in unspecified sexual misbehavior and promised to stay out of the church’s public life.

In May, the Vatican ordered O’Brien to leave Scotland for several months to pray and atone for his misconduct. It was a rare public sanction, but the Holy See would not say whether it was investigating the allegations against him.

The Scottish Catholic Church said Friday it plans to publish in the coming months a report on complaints made about clergy since 2006 — and how the complaints were handled.

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