UK's former most-senior Catholic cleric apologises for sexual conduct

UK's former most-senior Catholic cleric apologises for sexual conduct

The man who was until recently Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric tonight apologised for sexual conduct that had at times “fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal”.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien stepped down from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh last week, a day after three priests and a former priest made allegations of “inappropriate” behaviour against him.

In a statement issued by the Catholic Church in Scotland tonight, he apologised and asked forgiveness from those he had “offended”.

“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,” the statement said.

Cardinal O'Brien said he will spend the rest of his life in retirement and will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

It is understood he is currently not in the UK and will not be attending the Conclave to elect the successor to Pope Benedict.

The statement said: “In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.

“However, 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.

“To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.

“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.”

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