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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Archbishop elevated to cardinal
Archbishop Keith O'Brien
The archbishop will be among 31 new cardinals
Scottish archbishop Keith O'Brien has been declared a cardinal by the Pope at a ceremony in Rome.

Cardinal O' Brien was one of 31 new appointments to the College of Cardinals whose ultimate responsibility is to appoint a successor to Pope John Paul II.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church made the appointment as part of celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of his own election as Pope.

The cardinal expressed his deep gratitude at the honour, which he said he was accepting on behalf of the people of Scotland.

'Important recognition'

The ceremony took place on the steps of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Speaking in Rome, before the ceremony, Cardinal O'Brien said: "I think it is vitally important for every Scots person that Scotland is represented at the highest level in the church's deliberations.

"And I think that members of other denominations and some people of no faith at all appreciate that as well.

"It says something for our country, and for the church in our country, that Pope John Paul II and his advisers decided that again there should be a cardinal in Scotland."

St Peter's Basilica
The event will take place at St Peter's Basilica

News of the Pope's intention to elevate the archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh to the position has thrust him into the media spotlight in Scotland in recent weeks.

At a press conference in Rome on Monday, he denied reports he had called for the church to debate celibacy, contraception and homosexuality at a mass in Edinburgh, just days after his appointment was announced.

He then pledged his allegiance to the Pope.

Cardinal O'Brien, 65, told reporters: "I would strongly object to the wrong reports that have been circulated about me round the world.

"I did not say anything against the church's teachings at that mass."

The cardinal was born in Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and was ordained as a priest in 1965.

He went on to become Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 1985 and was the first member of the church in Scotland to be elevated since the death of Cardinal Thomas Winning two years ago.

Cardinal O'Brien is the third resident post-Reformation Cardinal in Scotland.

On Wednesday, the Scots College in Rome will host a special reception for the hundreds of well-wishers who have travelled from Scotland.

Archbishop Keith O'Brien
"It is important that there be a cardinal in Scotland"

Rome welcomes Scottish cardinal
21 Oct 03  |  Scotland
In pictures: Scotland's cardinal
21 Oct 03  |  Photo Gallery
Scots Catholics head for Rome
17 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Pope appoints Scottish cardinal
29 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Pope appoints 31 new cardinals
28 Sep 03  |  Europe
Pope chooses Winning successor
15 Jan 02  |  Scotland

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