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Catholic Church scandal: Cardinal O'Brien asks forgiveness of those he 'offended'

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Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has admitted his sexual conduct had “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”.

The Northern Ireland-born cleric stepped down from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh last month, a day after three priests and one former priest made allegations of “inappropriate” behaviour against him.

He is now expected to face a Vatican inquiry after a new Pope has been chosen.

After initially denying the allegations, the cardinal last night admitted sexual wrongdoing for the first time, as he asked forgiveness for those he had “offended”.

A statement issued on his behalf by the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “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.

“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. To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.”

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