This morning the Vatican released a curt statement announcing that Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who recently resigned as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh -- before the mandatory retirement age of seventy-five -- after admitting improper sexual conduct, will be leaving Scotland for a while to think about what he did. Weeks before the conclave, you'll recall, three priests and a former priest accused the cardinal of sexual misconduct, including a long-term affair -- allegations he initially denied. O'Brien skipped the conclave. It was thought he would skip town too, at least for a spell. But then he was seen moving into a seaside home about thirty miles east of Edinburgh.
"Its a nice little place," he reportedly said. "My plan is to move here ultimately to relax and enjoy my retirement." Pope Francis had other ideas. Not only will O'Brien be leaving Scotland to do penance for his admitted "sexual conduct [that] has fallen below the standards expected of me," but, as the Vatican statement makes clear, the pope will be keeping tabs on him. "Any decision regarding future arrangements for His Eminence shall be agreed with the Holy See."
So this is how Francis handles bishops who engage in inappropriate sexual conduct. Still waiting to see how he deals with bishops who fail to handle their own priests' misdeeds.