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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Pope appoints Scottish cardinal
Archbishop Keith O'Brien
Archbishop O'Brien will be made a cardinal next month
A Scottish archbishop is to be appointed to the post of cardinal by the Pope.

Pope John Paul II has announced the appointment of 31 new cardinals of the Roman Catholic church.

Archbishop Keith O'Brien will be made a cardinal at a consistory, an ecclesiastical senate, in Rome on 21 October.

The announcement was made by the Pope at the Vatican just before giving his customary Sunday blessing to pilgrims in St Peter's Square.

A mass took place on Monday at St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in central Edinburgh to celebrate the Papal decree.

Archbishop O'Brien, 65, has expressed his deep gratitude at the honour which he said he was accepting on behalf of the people of Scotland.

"As president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland I am proud of the fact that our small nation continues to be recognised and acknowledged by the church," he said.

Anniversary celebrations

The archbishop, born in Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, was ordained a priest in 1965 and became Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 1985.

He is the first member of the church in Scotland to be elevated since the death of Cardinal Thomas Winning two years ago.

I've got to be a good holy person, better than ever before to give a good example to all my people in the country
Archbishop O'Brien
Archbishop O'Brien - who will become Scotland's third cardinal since the Reformation - said one of his priority's would be child protection.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, he said: "First and foremost, children's protection issues at present must be at the forefront, the first thing in our concern. Scotland.

"We must have that as the great priority, care of vulnerable children and vulnerable adults and we've got to root out anyone who's doing any wrong.

"Caring for the individual and recognising that the individual who is doing any wrong needs a tremendous amount of love and care and compassion and respect to help him come to terms with what he may have done."

He added that another priority would be boosting the faith of lay people.

"I've got to be a good holy person, better than ever before to give a good example to all my people in the country," he said.

25th anniversary

First Minister Jack McConnell congratulated Archbishop O'Brien and said he was sure he would prove a "powerful and humane voice".

Mr McConnell said: "The Scottish government has a good relationship with the Catholic church in Scotland and I look forward to working with the new cardinal."

Cardinals from around the world have already been invited to attend a series of celebrations planned at the Vatican next month to mark the 25th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II.

As a cardinal, Archbishop O'Brien will help select the Pope's successor when he dies.

BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"He is one of the youngest of the new cardinals"

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