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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Cardinal O’Brien asked for forgiveness in will, mourners told

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who was once the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Britain, asked in his will for forgiveness from those he offended, mourners at his funeral were told.

The 80-year-old resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 2013 and left Scotland after admitting sexual misconduct.

He had been a vehement critic of gay marriage and spoke out against same sex relationships, but later apologised after three priests and one former priest alleged improper conduct in the 1980s.

He died last month in a Newcastle hospital following a fall and his requiem mass was held at the Church of St Michael in the city’s West End, close to the Little Sisters of the Poor care home where he had recently lived.

The funeral was led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and among the 200 mourners were Archbishop Edward Adams, the Papal Nuncio, around 40 priests, and nuns.
Cardinal Nichols said in his homily: “In recent days, as we all know, the life of Cardinal Keith has been laid bare.

“We all know its lights and its darkness and we need not spend time talking about them even more because he himself gave us the key words to keep in mind.

“In his last will and testament he wrote ‘I ask for forgiveness of all I have offended in this life.

“I thank God for the many graces and blessings He has given me especially the Sacrament of Holy Orders’.

“These are the words that guide us as we pray for the repose of his soul, and we also pray for all those he offended and ask God to strengthen them at this time too.”

Cardinal Nichols said as well as having failings, there was “great goodness” in Cardinal O’Brien’s life, not least his determination to help the poor.

Cardinal O’Brien, who was born in Ballycastle, County Antrim, and grew up in Scotland, trained to be a priest and also taught science at secondary school level.

Picture: The coffin of Cardinal Keith O’Brien leaves the Church of St Michael in Newcastle, after his funeral service. (Owen Humphreys/PA).