The UK Roman Catholic cardinal at the centre of a scandal involving allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards other priests has resigned. Cardinal Keith O’Brien is Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric. He’d been due to take part in the papal conclave next month..
Britain’s Observer newspaper published claims by three priests and one former priest, that the cardinal behaved inappropriately towards them in the 1980s.
One of the complainants alleged that inappropriate contact took place between him and the cardinal. Another claimed the cardinal used night prayers as an excuse for contact.
In a statement, O’Brien said he hoped his resignation would focus the media in Rome on the Pope and his successor. His retirement in March was brought forward by the Pope and he will step down today.
Pope Benedict himself steps down on 28 February – the first papal resignation in 600 years. He’s amended Roman Catholic law in order to speed up the election process, officials said, but the vote is not expected to take place before 1 March.
At a time when the Vatican is coping with reports of internal corruption and mismanagement, the conclave’s cardinals already face a big task in appointing a successor quickly. The Cardinal O’Brien fiasco will only add to their concerns.