Britain’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has said that priests should be allowed to marry and that younger colleagues should have “the choice”.
Now 74, the Irish-born Cardinal O’Brien, a frequently conservative voice in Scotland, will vote for Pope Benedict XVI’s successor when he attends the Vatican conclave.
“I’d be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should be married. It’s a free world,” he told BBC Scotland before his departure for Rome.
Closed ranks and ‘clarification’ in 3…2…1…
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“When you were a student for the priesthood, well it was part of the package, as it were, that you were celibate, that you didn’t get married and you didn’t really consider it all that much, you just took your vows of celibacy the way someone else would naturally take their vows of marriage.”
O’Brien welcomed Pope Benedict when he visited Scotland in 2010.
He has been an outspoken opponent of the Scottish government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage and was named “bigot of the year” by the gay rights charity Stonewall last November. It said he was given the title because he went “well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse” in the debate.