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There has long been an ambivalence about the man who was both the ultimate betrayer and the means by which God’s plan was fulfilled. The author of a new book visits the lonely place where the renegade apostle took his own life
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The new Bishop of Dunkeld says that not to forgive Cardinal Keith O’Brien would be “gravely wrong” but that the disgraced archbishop needs to make reparation for the harm he has done.
Speaking after his installation at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee, last week, Bishop Stephen Robson acknowledged that “hypocrisy” was the greatest criticism facing the Church in Scotland.
Cardinal O’Brien, who resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct made by priests, had been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage.
Bishop Robson worked with Cardinal O’Brien for 35 years.
“Never once in all that time did I experience anything of the behaviour he was accused of. That is why his downfall came as such a shock to me and to so many. The Cardinal was much loved in the archdiocese. I was a bishop only a few months when this sad narrative began to unravel. The cardinal admitted behaviour unbecoming in a man of God and I do not believe forgiveness of him is at question.”
On the issue of clerical sexual abuse, Bishop Robson added that he believed the process of forgiveness and reparation would not be quick or easy and that the “horrific trial” would continue for some time.