The four, from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, have complained to nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican's ambassador to Britain, and demanded O'Brien's immediate resignation. A spokesman for the cardinal said that the claims were contested.
O'Brien, who is due to retire next month, has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, condemning homosexuality as immoral, opposing gay adoption, and most recently arguing that same-sex marriages would be "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved". Last year he was named "bigot of the year" by the gay rights charity Stonewall.According to the New York Times, a statement issued by the Diocese of Edinburgh on O'Brien's behalf yesterday said: "A number of allegations of inappropriate behavior have been made against the cardinal The cardinal has sought legal advice, and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. There will be further statements in due course."