The decision of the Pope Emeritus in forcing Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien to step as head of Scotland's Roman Catholics appears to be correct. The forcible resignation of the cardinal was one of the last acts of then Pope Benedict XVI just before he stepped down on Feb 28 amid scandals that have rocked the Church.
The former pontiff was proven correct since Cardinal O'Brien, who was forced to quit four weeks ahead of his 75th birthday this March, admitted to the charges of sexual misconduct leveled at him by priests. The incidents, for which he apologised, happened during his younger days.
With the forced stepping down, the cardinal also withdrew from the conclave scheduled in mid-March and spares the Church from further scandals.
"In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public . . . initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them," the cardinal said in a statement.
"However, 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," he added.
The incidents, which involved three priests and one ex-priest, happened in the 1980s when the cardinal was in his 40s.
"To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise," the ex-Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said.
Because of the scandal, he planned to spend the rest of his life in retirement and cease from having further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.
Prior to the accusations which led to calls for the cardinal not to take part in the election of a new pope, Cardinal O'Brien said he was in favour of priests getting married.
Ironically, he was criticized for scaremongering in 2011 regarding the anti-gay marriage comments he made.
Because of the incident, there is also a strong clamour for retired Los Angeles Archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahoney to withdraw from the planned conclave due to his failure to protect children and teens from sexual abuse.
"Cardinals who are tainted by the crisis cannot choose the person who will solve it. If they are involved in the deliberations and the votes, they will taint the outcome, damaging the legitimacy of whoever is ultimately chose," Associated Press quoted BishopAccountability.org President Terence McKiernan.