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Top UK Catholic quits after sexual advances claims

 

 

LONDON (AFP) February 25, 2013, 11:35:52 AM EST

 

 

Cardinal Keith O'Brien pictured at St Peter's Square in Vatican City in 2005. Cardinal O'Brien, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, resigned with immediate effect as head of the Catholic Church in Scotland on Monday in the wake of claims that he made sexual advances towards priests.

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/File

Cardinal Keith O'Brien pictured at St Peter's Square in Vatican City in 2005. Cardinal O'Brien, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, resigned with immediate effect as head of the Catholic Church in Scotland on Monday in the wake of claims that he made sexual advances towards priests.

 

He added: "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."

O'Brien had been due to resign on his 75th birthday next month but said the pope had "now decided that my resignation will take effect today".

Another priest reportedly claims that O'Brien used night prayers as cover for inappropriate contact.

O'Brien has previously angered the gay community with his hardline public stance on homosexuality. He was named "bigot of the year" last year by the gay rights charity Stonewall.

He recently said that same-sex marriages would be "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved" and has long voiced opposition to gay adoption.

But he also called last week for priests to be able to marry and have children.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said he had learned of O'Brien's resignation "with the greatest sadness".

"None of us know the outcome of the investigation into the claims made against him but I have found him to be a good man for his church and country," he added.

"Compromised by his own sexual misdeeds, it's hard to imagine that O'Brien has properly handled paedophile priests," the group said.

A string of new scandals and allegations have emerged since Benedict became only the second pope in the Church's 2,000-year history to step down of his own free will.

And while 85-year-old Benedict cited his age as the main factor in his resignation, media have speculated that an explosive report into last year's "Vatileaks" scandal may have played a role.

The scandal saw Benedict's butler arrested, convicted and later pardoned for leaking confidential papers to the press.

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