The recently embattled Archbishop of Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has announced he is resigning his position effective immediately.
On Sunday, Digital Journal reported three current priests and one former priest had accused O'Brien of "inappropriate behavior." The four approached nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican's ambassador to Britain, making allegations of inappropriate behavior that began some 30 years ago. The complaints were filed with the nuncio's office in early February, and called for O'Brien's immediate resignation. Peter Kearney a spokesman for the cardinal said:
"Cardinal O'Brien contests these claims and is taking legal advice."
O'Brien had already submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, doing so on November 13, 2012, stating age and health as his reasons. O'Brien's resignation was scheduled to go into effect on St. Patrick's Day, his 75th birthday. However, O'Brien has just issued a statement saying his resignation becomes effective immediately. He apologized to those he had offended during his ministry, saying:
"I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest. For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologize to all whom I have offended."
O'Brien did not celebrate mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday, and was scheduled to fly to Rome on Tuesday to join the conclave to elect a successor for Pope Benedict XVI. This unexpected announcement now means that O'Brien will not take part in the conclave, leaving Great Britain without a representative in the process.
The Catholic Church has been rocked by misconduct scandals over the past few weeks. Accusations that the Pope was seeking immunity from prosecution surfaced earlier this month and was reported by Digital Journal. Released court documents and a scathing report by the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child accusing the United States of ignoring a culture of abuse by the Catholic Church have also been reported in the last week.
O'Brien claims his immediate resignation is to prevent the media from focusing on him, instead placing the focus on Pope Benedict and the election of a new Pope, saying:
"I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me - but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor."UPDATE 8:20 a.m. CST
Reports are now saying it was Pope Benedict, not O'Brien, who decided the resignation would go into effect on Monday, quoting O'Brien as saying:
"The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today."The Telegraph states as one of the last official acts before resigning himself, the Pope will name an “Apostolic Administrator” to oversee the the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh until such time as a new Archbishop is named.