Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned as the head of the Scottish Catholic church after being accused of “inappropriate acts” towards fellow priests.
News that Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal’s resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh came after the Observer disclosed a series of allegations by three priests and one former priest.
O’Brien has denied the allegations and had been expected to continue in his post as archbishop until mid-March, when he was due to retire at age 75.
However, in a statement released by the church on Monday, it emerged that the pope had accepted O’Brien’s resignation a week ago, on 18 February.
In the statement, O’Brien apologised to any people he had let down and said he did not want the controversy to overshadow the election of the new pope.