British Cardinal to Skip Papal Conclave

In this photo from Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010, Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaks to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland. Catholic officials say Sunday, Feb. 24, they are looking into allegations of 'inappropriate behavior' by O'Brien.
Associated Press SHARE

By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Cardinal Keith O'Brien says he will be skipping the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after resigning as archbishop in the wake of misconduct allegations.

The cardinal said in a statement issued Monday that he will not attend because he doesn't want media attention focused on him during the important session in Rome.

[READ: Opinion | Should the New Pope Be From the Third World?]

The Vatican confirmed O'Brien had resigned as archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh. It was accepted under the code of canon law for reasons of O'Brien's age; he turns 75 — the normal retirement age for bishops — on March 17.

He said in a statement that he is in "indifferent health" and that he had offered his resignation last November.

"Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologize to all whom I have offended," he said.

O'Brien has said through his spokesman that he is contesting allegations made Sunday in a British newspaper that three priests and a former priest have filed complaints to the Vatican alleging that the cardinal acted inappropriately with them.

The Observer newspaper did not give the names of the priests, but it said their allegations date back to the 1980s. There were no details about the alleged inappropriate behavior.

[PHOTOS: Pope Benedict XVI to Resign]

The one-sentence Vatican statement issued Monday made no reference to the allegations.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Sunday the complaints had been channeled through the office of the papal nuncio — the Vatican's ambassador — in London.

"The pope has been informed, and the question is in his hands," Lombardi said.

___

Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.