Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic prelate, resigned Monday as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after having been accused of "inappropriate behavior" toward other church members.
O'Brien, 74, was to have been the only British delegate at the conclave to elect a new pope after the recent resignation of Benedict XVI, but now he will not attend and Britain will thus be unrepresented.
"I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me - but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor," the cardinal explained when he announced his resignation, effective as of Monday.
His exit, along with that of another cardinal who is ill, will leave a total of 115 cardinals who will elect the new pontiff out of the 117 who had the right to vote on the matter.
O'Brien's resignation comes after on Sunday three priests and a former priest issued a complaint to The Vatican regarding the alleged improper conduct he had engaged in with them.
The accusations come from priests and seminarians who allegedly were the victims of the cardinal's improper conduct when they were under his tutelage during the 1980s, according to the British weekly The Observer.
One of the four men who filed the complaint said on Sunday that he left the priesthood when O'Brien was named bishop to "preserve my integrity."
Last month, O'Brien resigned some of his responsibilities as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church because of his advanced age and because he was getting ready to retire next month.
He has expressed his opposition to the idea of legalizing same-sex unions but said last week in an interview with the BBC that heterosexual priests should be allowed to marry. EFE