Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, acknowledged Sunday, March 3, that he had been guilty of sexual misconduct, a week after he announced his resignation and said he would not attend the conclave to choose the next pope, The New York Times reported.
The moves followed revelations that three current and one former priest had accused him of inappropriate sexual contact dating back decades. Cardinal O’Brien, the head of the church in Scotland, is the highest-ranking figure in the church’s recent history to make such an admission.
“I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal,” Cardinal O’Brien, 74, said in a statement.
Initially, Cardinal O’Brien contested the allegations and said he was seeking legal advice. But on Sunday, he offered a sweeping apology that was, however, bereft of detail. “To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness,” he said. “To the Catholic Church and the people of Scotland, I also apologize. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”