UK
15/09/2013 12:02 BST

Disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien Should Stay Away From Scotland, Says Successor Leo Cushley

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EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: Cardinal Keith O'Brien takes mass at St Mary's Cathedral on May 31, 2007 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Cardinal has urged voters to reject politicians who defend abortion. The Cardinal has said that MP's who support abortion should consider not receiving communion. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Disgraced Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien should stay away from Scotland, his sucessor has warned, after allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

He stepped down in February after three priests and a former priest made allegations against him, and has since left the country at the request of the Vatican for a period of ''spiritual renewal and reflection''. He issued an apology, saying ''there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me''.

Monsignor Leo Cushley, who is taking over as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said that although he is a free man, it would be "wiser" for him not to return.

Mgr Cushley, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Sunday Programme, said: "He is a free man in a free country so he can come back if we wants but the Holy See will be the ones to ask him to do whatever it is they intend.

"We all have our own opinions about that and what would be best for him, what would be best for those who have been affected his actions, what would be better for the local Church."

He continued: "What can I say? I think it's not impossible for Cardinal O'Brien to come back to Scotland, of course it's not impossible, but personally speaking I think it's somewhat unlikely that he would return to Scotland.

"Looking around myself, it would probably be wiser and more helpful for the future of the church here if he were not to be back in the country."

The former member of the Vatican's diplomatic team was also asked for his views on the Scottish independence referendum.

He said: "When it is something that is strictly political we tend to leave that up to people as citizens and voters."