4 Mar 2013

Cardinal apologises for sexual conduct

11:25 am on 4 March 2013

The former head of the Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has admitted his sexual conduct had fallen below the standards expected of him.

The cardinal resigned as head of the Catholic Church in Scotland on Monday in the wake of claims that he made sexual advances towards priests, AFP reports.

In a statement, he apologised to those he had offended, to the Catholic Church and people of Scotland.

"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," he said.

He initially denied the allegations, which date back to the 1980s.

The 74-year-old had been due to be the only British cardinal to vote on a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI following the pontiff's shock resignation on 11 February.

Cardinal O'Brien confirmed in his resignation statement that he will not take part in the election conclave, which has been overshadowed by controversies surrounding him and other cardinals caught up in sex scandals.

He said he would spend the rest of his life in retirement and play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.