According to a communique released by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father accepted Cardinal O'Brien's resignation in conformity with canon 401 § 1, which requires prelates to tender their resignation upon reaching the age of 75.
Recently, allegations of impropriety have been raised against the Archbishop of Scotland. Cardinal O'Brien has denied the accusations against him.
Commenting on journalists speculations on reasons for his departure, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, stated that Cardinal O'Brien's resignation was accepted nunc pro tunc (meaning effective at a later date) in November of last year in anticipation of his 75th birthday.
Today's announcement, he continued, only confirms that Cardinal O'Brien's resignation will be effective today upon the Holy Father's acceptance.
Cardinal O'Brien Releases Statement
Commenting on the announcement, Cardinal O'Brien t stated that the Holy Father will appoint an Apostolic Administrator to govern the Archdiocese until a successor has been appointed.
The Cardinal stated that he has "valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest."
"Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologize to all whom I have offended," he said. Cardinal O'Brien went on to thank Pope Benedict XVI for his kindness towards him and the people of Scotland, as well as wishing the Holy Father a "long and happy retirement."
Regarding the media attention on the allegations, the now Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh has decided to not attend the conclave so as not to be a distraction from the selection of Benedict XVI's successor.
"I also ask God’s blessing on my brother Cardinals who will soon gather in Rome to elect his successor," Cardinal O'Brien said. "I will not join them for this Conclave in person. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his Successor. However, I will pray with them and for them that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they will make the correct choice for the future good of the Church."
Cardinal O'Brien concluded by expressing his gratefulness for the years of his ministry and invoking God's blessings "on all the peoples of Scotland especially those I was privileged to serve in a special way in the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh."
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On ZENIT's web page:
For Cardinal O'Brien's full statement, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/statement-by-cardinal-keith-o-brien-regarding-resignation