A few days after denying any sexual misconduct, Keith Cardinal O'Brien issued a letter admiting that he had engaged in sexually deviant behavior (without giving any specifics), would no longer play a public role in the Church, and that he would not attend the conclave. The New York Times reports:
LONDON — Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, acknowledged Sunday that he had been guilty of sexual misconduct, a week after he announced his resignation and said he would not attend the conclave to choose the next pope. The moves followed revelations that three current and one former priest had accused him of inappropriate sexual contact dating back decades.
“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,” Cardinal O’Brien, 74, said in a statement.
The statement stunned many in the Scottish church and beyond. Some said the cardinal’s statement appeared to raise the possibility that the undefined sexual activities he acknowledged may not be restricted to the known allegations, the earliest of which relates to 1980. Ordained in 1965, he became an archbishop in 1985, but was not named cardinal until 2003.
Initially, Cardinal O’Brien contested the allegations and said he was seeking legal advice. But on Sunday, he offered a sweeping apology that was, however, bereft of detail. “To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness,” he said. “To the Catholic Church and the people of Scotland, I also apologize. 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.”