MEP Michael Cashman: Compassion for Cardinal O’Brien should be saved for victims of Catholic anti-gay discrimation

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Labour MEP and Stonewall co-founder Michael Cashman tweeted PinkNews today to respond to a piece on Baroness Kennedy, who last week spoke of her “huge compassion” for Cardinal Keith O’Brien, saying the Cardinal’s resignation was something he brought upon himself by joining the “aggressively illiberal” Catholic Church.

Cardinal O’Brien, an opponent of LGBT rights, admitted sexual misconduct earlier this month following allegations he had behaved inappropriately with male priests in the past.

He resigned in February as the number of allegations grew.

Baroness Kennedy said that although she could not condone the Cardinal’s “predatory actions”, she felt sympathy for him having to adhere to requirements for Catholic priests to remain celibate, something she described as “torture”.

“Here was a man who quite clearly had wanted to have a sexual life and felt that it was a failing for him to want to have a sexual life … I feel very sad that it was something he had to in some way bury,” she said.

Today Mr Cashman responded to Baroness Kennedy, saying her concern would be better suited to the LGBT people and women who are discriminated against by the Catholic Church.

He added that Cardinal O’Brien’s sexual misconduct, and subsequent disgrace and resignation, was something he “pursued” himself by choosing to join the Catholic Church.

He said:-



Mr Cashman received a CBE in December 2012 for his ongoing work for LGBT rights.

The inquiry by the Vatican into the sexual conduct of Cardinal O’Brien is not likely to begin until after a new Pope is chosen – with the former Archbishop of Westminster saying the Catholic Church is made up of “saints and sinners”

“By his own admission, the cardinal stands exposed as a hypocrite. He preached publicly against homosexuality while privately seeking its pleasures,” human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said to PinkNews.

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

He could face a criminal inquiry after police received a formal complaint against him from lawyer Nick Freeman, well-known for representing a string of celebrities.