I WAS very sorry to learn of the extremely wounding accusations made about Cardinal O'Brien, especially at this moment in his life and in the current stage of the Catholic Church's history ("Doubt over cardinal's role in Pope vote", The Herald, February 25).

Rank and reputation provide no exemption from accusations of this kind. Nevertheless these particular ones seem out of character with the perception I have of Cardinal O'Brien – a plain-spoken, straightforward man not afraid of expressing views which he feels duty-bound to express whatever the risk to his popularity. Some of the cardinal's pronouncements may seem strident and extreme but that is the character of the man.

What, at this particular moment was the useful purpose of making such a damaging accusation? I would like to re-affirm my respect for Cardinal O'Brien and to wish him well.

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Ian Ross,

3 Kenbank Crescent, Bridge of Weir.

ALLEGATIONS first raised five years ago about former Liberal Democrat chief executive Lord Rennard ("Clegg: I knew of Rennard allegations", The Herald, February 25) and now regarding Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Catholic cleric, have surfaced on the eve of the Eastleigh by-election and the selection process for the next Pope.

One suspects that the timing somehow is not entirely motivated by a selfless desire for truth or justice, but due to machinations behind closed doors.

R Russell Smith,

96 Milton Road, Kilbirnie.