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Former Catholic Church leader dies aged 80

Archbishop Leo Cushley read Cardinal Keith O’Brien his last rites on Friday.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Britain, has died at the age of 80.

He had recently been injured in a fall and died in a Newcastle hospital.

Cardinal O’Brien resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 2013 after admitting sexual misconduct.

Confirmation of his death was announced by his successor, Archbishop Leo Cushley.

He said: “At 1am on 19 March 2018, his eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien, Archbishop Emeritus of St Andrews & Edinburgh, died at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne surrounded by family and friends and fortified by the rites of Holy Church. RIP.

“In life, Cardinal O’Brien may have divided opinion – in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down. May he rest in peace.”

His successor gave him the last rites on Friday.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said: “We have received the sad news of the death of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Emeritus Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

“On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland I wish to express my sincere sympathy on the death of the late Cardinal to his family and close friends. I ask for prayers for the repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.”

Bishop Joseph Toal said: “I will pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, who died early this morning – may he rest in God’s peace.

“I extend my sympathy and prayerful support to his family, friends and all who mourn his passing. With constant hope in the Lord’s goodness and mercy.”

The cardinal had resigned in February 2013 after three priests and a former priest alleged improper conduct during the 1980s.

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