Catholic Church defends buying bungalow for Cardinal Keith O’Brien

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A Scottish cardinal who preached against gay relationships but then admitted to “inappropriate behaviour” with male priests is living out retirement in a bungalow paid for by the Catholic Church.

It had previously been thought Cardinal Keith O’Brien was living in a monastery in England for “spiritual renewal and penance” after admitting he had “fallen beneath the standards” expected of him.

But the Daily Record reports he’s actually staying in a £208,750 bungalow – bought by Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley – in the village of Ellington, Northumberland.

Cardinal O’Brien, 76, was tracked down by reporters on Tuesday, but refused to answer questions about his living arrangements.

He said: “I’m not speaking to anyone at the moment”.

When asked about the property he said: “You’ll need to check that with the diocese.

“I’m not talking about it, I’m not allowed to talk about it.”

Cardinal O’Brien resigned as Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh last year after admitting to “inappropriate behaviour” with several priests.

In November 2012, he was named ‘Bigot of the Year’ by gay rights charity Stonewall due to his staunch opposition to marriage equality.

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

It was also alleged Cardinal O’Brien had a long-standing physical relationship with one of the men whose complaints about his conduct sparked his resignation.

An initial Vatican inquiry concluded in April last year – and no further action against Cardinal O’Brien was taken.

However, the 76-year-old remains under investigation and could still be stripped of his title. It gets automatically removed on reaching 80.

He retains the right to vote at any future papal conclave, although he chose not to for the election of Pope Francis.

A spokesman for the Diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh said: “Some retired clergy have accommodation bought for their use although such properties are always owned by the diocese.

“This is the case with the house arranged for Cardinal O’Brien. Its location is in accordance with the agreement between him and the Holy See. The details of the transaction are a matter of public record and the price was within the cost range of other purchases for retired clergy housing.”