Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, the archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland who has been accused of inappropriate sexual relations with priests, has resigned as archbishop and has indicated he will not partake in the election of the next pope, reports NCR Online.
News of O'Brien's resignation came yesterday in a press release from his diocese, which said the cardinal, who turns 75 in March, had submitted his resignation to the pope in November.
"Given the imminent Vacant See, the Holy Father has now decided to accept the said resignation definitively," stated the release from the Scottish archdiocese.
Three priests and one former priest had reported O'Brien to the apostolic nuncio to Great Britain in early February, claiming the cardinal had acted in inappropriate sexual ways toward them in incidents over the last three decades.
O'Brien, who has denied the allegations through his spokesperson, said in the release: "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 will not join them for this Conclave in person," O'Brien continued. "I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me -- but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his Successor."
Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, confirmed the news at a press conference yesterday, adding that he would not comment on the cardinal's decision to not partake in the conclave.
Cardinal OBrien resigns, won't take part in conclave (NCR)
Cardinal's departure darkens mood as pope announces early conclave (Yahoo)
Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien (Catholic Herald)
Church in turmoil as Scottish cardinal quits (Strathearn Herald)