Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigns as Archbishop

Keith

Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric resigned today following allegations he behaved in an "inappropriate" way with other priests, and said he would not be going to the Vatican to take part in the election for Pope Benedict's replacement.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who had been expected to take part in the conclave, said he had tendered his resignation to Pope Benedict some months ago as he was turning 75 and because he was suffering from "indifferent health".

The pope, who himself is stepping down on February 28 because of ill health, had decided to accept O'Brien's resignation before he left the role, O'Brien, the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, said in a statement.

"For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended," said the statement, which made no reference to the recent allegations.

O'Brien, who is known for outspoken views on homosexuality, had been reported to the Vatican over allegations of inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years, according to a media report. He has rejected the claims.

In his statement he confirmed he would not be heading to Rome to take part in the election for Benedict's replacement.

"I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focussed on me -- but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor," he said.

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