Archbishop who smeared gay Labour MP David Cairns takes over in temporary role from Cardinal O’Brien

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, has been put in charge of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, following Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s decision to resign over alleged inappropriate behaviour involving several male priests.

Cardinal O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic, resigned as the leader of the Scottish Catholic Church on Monday after he was accused of inappropriate behaviour towards priests in the 1980s – allegations which he denied last weekend.

During his time as leader Cardinal O’Brien was derided for his anti-gay views by many from within the LGBT community.

Last November, he was named ‘Bigot of the Year’ by a gay rights charity due to his staunch opposition to marriage equality.

In 2012, he stated that same-sex relationships were “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing” and compared equal marriage to slavery and child abuse.

Cardinal O’Brien’s temporary replacement, Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, is also against equal marriage and has also previously made homophobic comments.

In July 2012, Archbishop Tartaglia linked the death of gay Labour MP David Cairns to his sexuality.

Speaking at the University of Oxford in a debate on religious freedom, Archbishop Tartaglia said:

“Recently in Scotland there was a gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so and nobody said anything and why his body should just shut down at that age, obviously he could have had a disease which would have killed anyone, but you seem to hear so many stories about this kind of thing. But society won’t address it.”

Archbishop Tartaglia was roundly condemned over the comments.

Dermot Kehoe, Mr Cairns’ partner of 15 years, said it was “deeply painful” and had added to the “grief and pain” both for him and of Mr Cairns’ family.

Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper also expressed their shock and anger at the comments; Archbishop Tartaglia subsequently apologised.

David Cairns, a former Catholic priest, died in May 2010 after suffering acute pancreatitis at the age of 44.

The popular and respected MP was a passionate advocate of LGBT equality and a patron of LGBT Labour.

The Scottish Catholic Church said Archbishop Tartaglia would lead the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh until a permanent appointment was made.