At first he denied claims of sexual misconduct. Now Keith O'Brien, Britain's most powerful cardinal, has issued a statement apologizing for "times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal. To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness." Facing accusations from three current priests and a former priest, the 74-year-old Catholic leader says he will spend his remaining days in retirement and have no part in public life, the BBC reports.
The accusations are similar—all alleging inappropriate approaches by O'Brien in the 1980s, usually after night prayers or late-night drinking. The former priest who pointed a finger at O'Brien told the Observer that he was "disappointed" by the Catholic church's "lack of integrity" and "the cold disapproval of the church hierarchy for daring to break ranks. I feel like if they could crush me, they would." Despite O'Brien's apparent interest in men, he has loudly opposed same-sex marriage rights in Scotland and was awarded "bigot of the year" by the gay rights group Stonewall.