Cardinal Keith O’Brien has announced that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted that he resigns with immediate effect, and that he will not, therefore, participate in the Conclave to elect the next pope:
Vatican Insider reports:
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is stepping down as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh. It follows allegations – which he contests – of inappropriate behaviour towards priests dating from the 1980s.The Scottish Catholic Church says Pope Benedict has accepted his resignation.
The cardinal confirmed he would not take part in the election for a successor to the Pope – leaving Britain unrepresented in the election.
Cardinal O’Brien said in a statement he had already tendered his resignation, due to take effect when he turned 75 next month, but that Pope Benedict “has now decided that my resignation will take effect today”. He said the pontiff would appoint an apostolic administrator to govern the archdiocese in his place until his successor is appointed.
The resignation of Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the wake of allegations of improper behaviour creates a crisis for the Church in Scotland, and represents a heavy blow to the wider Church as it battles to shore up its reputation ahead of the papal election or “conclave”.
The conclave is already expected to be difficult in the circumstances created by Pope Benedict’s unprecedented resignation.The Vatican is also struggling to deal with reports of internal corruption and mismanagement. Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation is also a personal tragedy for himself.
Protect the Pope comment: I can’t put into words how sad this makes me feel, now that I have moved beyond my initial anger on learning the news. Cardinal Keith O’Brien was a source of encouragement and leadership for faithful and loyal Catholics on both sides of the border. But his unnecessary comments on celibacy, his mishandling of the question about women priests, and now his resignation under a cloud are massive body blows to Catholics seeking to defend the Deposit of Faith. This tragic turn of events, coming on the heels of Pope Benedict’s decision to resign due to old age, give the impression of the ground being taken from under us . However, my wise parish priest gave me this advice, from Chesterton, the Church has appeared to have gone to the dogs five times in history, and every time the dogs have died.