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Cardinal Nichols: there was goodness in Cardinal O’Brien’s life

Cardinal Nichols (Mazur/

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has urged mourners at a Requiem Mass for Cardinal Keith O’Brien to pray for the repose of the cardinal’s soul as well as for those he offended.

At the Mass at St Michael’s in Newcastle, the cardinal said: “In recent days, the life of Cardinal Keith has been laid bare.

“We all know its lights and its darkness; we need not spend time talking about them even more for he has given us the key words. In his last will and testament he wrote: ‘I ask forgiveness of all I have offended in this life. I thank God for the many graces and blessings he has given me especially the Sacrament of Holy Orders.’

“Today, as we pray for the repose of his soul, we also pray for all those he offended and ask God to strengthen them at this time,” Cardinal Nichols said.

The cardinal said that every funeral Mass was “above all else a prayer for God’s mercy for the one who has died”.

He said: “In the life of Cardinal O’Brien, as well as his failings, there was goodness, courage and many acts of simple kindness. Not least was his determination to serve the poor of the world.

“But when we come to stand before God we do so best when we come empty-handed. No matter how great or slight our achievements might be, we cannot depend on them. No, we come before God empty-handed so that we can receive the one thing necessary: a full measure of God’s mercy.”

Cardinal O’Brien, who died at the age of 80 last month, resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 2013 after apologising for sexual misconduct.

He is to be buried with his mother and father at Mount Vernon Cemetery, Edinburgh, tomorrow.