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Cardinal O'Brien resigns after allegations of "inappropriate behavior" with young priests

LONDON – Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the top figure in the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and a leading voice against LGBT equality in the United Kingdom, has resigned after being accused by four priests of “inappropriate behavior.”

The accusations, which surfaced over the past few days, have rocked the UK as the Parliament has been debating a marriage-equality bill.

At the same time, the Vatican has been battling accusations by one of Italy’s leading newspapers that Pope Benedict XVI resigned after receiving a secret report from three cardinals who were investigating the 2012 scandal over confidential documents leaked by the Pope’s right-hand man. The report allegedly revealed evidence of blackmail, corruption and a network of gay prelates in the Vatican – but the Vatican is denying the newspaper’s reporting.

Peter Tatchell, a leading LGBT advocate in the United Kingdom, said the allegations against the 74-year-old Cardinal O’Brien and the Vatican show that the Roman Catholic Church is full of hypocrites.

"Cardinal O'Brien condemned homosexuality as a grave sin and was a long-time opponent of gay equality. He supported homophobic discrimination in law, including the current ban on same-sex marriage,” Tatchell said.

"In the light of these allegations, his stance looks hypocritical. He appears to have preached one thing in public while doing something different in private,” Tatchell said.

"Several other prominent opponents of equal marriage are guilty of double standards and vulnerable to similar exposure. They include anti-gay clergy and politicians,” he said.

"It is estimated that around 40% of Catholic priests in Britain are gay, which makes the church's opposition to gay equality so two-faced and absurd. A significant proportion of all Cardinals worldwide is thought to be gay,” Tatchell said.

"Recent revelations in Italy have alleged the existence of a gay mafia within the Vatican, including senior Cardinals and other Vatican officials, and their participation in gay bars, clubs, saunas, chat rooms and male prostitution services,” he said.

"The Vatican is shamelessly championing homophobia and the denial of legal equality to gay people, while hosting a hotbed of secret, guilt-ridden clerical homosexuality," Tatchell said.