Britain's most senior cardinal Keith O'Brien, who was forced to resign last week, has apologised and admitted that he was guilty of sexual misconduct throughout his career in the Roman Catholic church.
O'Brien was forced to resign last week by Pope Benedict XVI, barely 36 hours after the Observer disclosed that three serving priests and a former priest were accusing him of "inappropriate acts" against them nearly 30 years ago, in a formal complaint to the pope's ambassador to the UK.
The former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and until recently the most senior Catholic in Britain, apologised and asked for forgiveness from those he had "offended" and from the entire church.
According to the Guardian, in a statement issued on Sunday, the 74-year-old stated that "there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal".
O'Brien's much wider admissions are a significant rebuff to some senior figures in the Scottish church who had repeatedly downplayed the allegations disclosed in the Observer, calling them unsubstantiated, non-specific and anonymous, the paper said.
The cardinal's office warned the Observer it faced legal action after it first contacted him.