.- Cardinal Keith O'Brien said he backed Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom, predicting that independence would come “before too long,” for his country, “Scotland on Sunday” reported.
"I would not get too involved in the politics of independence, but I am happy that, if it is the wish of the people, Scotland becomes an independent country," the cardinal said in an interview with the Catholic Herald newspaper and St Andrews University philosopher John Haldane.
"In my travels I have had much experience of small countries and I have seen what benefits independence can bring,” he added.
He noted that Ireland and Denmark benefited from the "prosperity which self-determination can bring".
The 68-year-old cleric also spoke of his frustration with the Scottish Parliament. Members of which have already expressed their displeasure with the cardinal’s statements.
According to the Sunday paper, O'Brien's comments have caused deep dismay in Labour ranks, with party sources expressing disappointment the cardinal has chosen to stray on to such controversial political ground months before the referendum regarding independence next May.
“It is difficult to argue that ecclesiastical independence is acceptable but political independence is not," he said, referring to the fact that the Scottish and English Catholic churches are independent of each other.
The cardinal's comments follow a series of sharp attacks on Labour's policies on moral issues, despite historically strong links between Catholics in Scotland and the Labour Party.
Last week, Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley criticized politicians for legalizing same-sex marriage, and accused legislators of becoming intolerant and hostile to Christian opinion.