Cardinal Keith O'Brien's Resignation 'Sad', Says Alex Salmond

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Scotland's First Minister has spoken of his sadness at the resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, whom he described as a "good man for his church and country".

Responding to the announcement that the leader of Scotland's Roman Catholic Community is stepping down with immediate effect, Alex Salmond said: "I hear the news of Cardinal O'Brien's resignation with the greatest sadness.

"In all of my dealings with the Cardinal, he has been a considerate and thoughtful leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, stalwart in his faith but constructive in his approach.

"It would be a great pity if a lifetime of positive work was lost from comment in the circumstances of his resignation.

"None of us know the outcome of the investigation into the claims made against him but I have found him to be a good man for his church and country."

In his statement, the First Minister referred to the visit of Pope Benedict to Scotland in 2010, which he described as a highlight of O'Brien's cardinalship.

Cardinal O'Brien is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour made by a newspaper.

Gay rights group Stonewall, which voted the cardinal "bigot of the year" last year for his comments on issues including same-sex marriage, also commented on his resignation.

Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane said: "We trust there will now be a full investigation into the serious allegations made against Cardinal O'Brien.

"We hope his successor will show a little more Christian charity towards openly gay people than the Cardinal did himself."

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said on his Twitter account: "I am not a Catholic but his leadership will be missed."

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