Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien has resigned as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh today. The Cardinal had already presented last November his resignation in view of his 75th birthday on 17 March 2013, and it was accepted by the Holy Father with the formula 'nunc pro tunc' (now for later). In a statement the Scottish Media Office said: "Given the imminent Vacant See, the Holy Father has now decided to accept the said resignation definitively."
The resignation comes in the wake of allegations of 'improper behaviour' towards them in the 1980's made by three priests and one former priest in an article published by the Observer on Saturday. Cardinal O'Brien's office yesterday denied the allegations and said he was seeking legal advice.
The news means that the Catholic Church in the UK will be not have a voting representative at the forthcoming Conclave which will choose the next Pope. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor will be attending and taaking part in discussions but he is over the voting age.
Reacting to the acceptance of his resignation, Cardinal O'Brien said: "Approaching the age of seventy-five and at times in indifferent health, I tendered my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh to Pope Benedict XVI some months ago. I was happy to know that he accepted my resignation ‘nunc pro tunc’ – (now – but to take effect later) on 13 November 2012. The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today, 25 February 2013, and that he will appoint an Apostolic Administrator to govern the Archdiocese in my place until my successor as Archbishop is appointed. In the meantime I will give every assistance to the Apostolic Administrator and to our new Archbishop, once he is appointed, as I prepare to move into retirement.
I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest. Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended.
I thank Pope Benedict XVI for his kindness and courtesy to me and on my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Scotland, I wish him a long and happy retirement. I also ask God’s blessing on my brother Cardinals who will soon gather in Rome to elect his successor. I will not join them for this Conclave in person. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focussed on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his Successor. However, I will pray with them and for them that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they will make the correct choice for the future good of the Church.
May God who has blessed me so often in my ministry continue to bless and help me in the years which remain for me on earth and may he shower his blessings on all the peoples of Scotland especially those I was privileged to serve in a special way in the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh."
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