Updated: Monday, 25 Feb 2013, 1:08 PM EST
Published : Monday, 25 Feb 2013, 1:08 PM EST
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict's decision to resign has set off a round of mudslinging that now appears to have brought down the highest-ranking Catholic leader in Britain.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien says he will not participate in the conclave to elect the next pope after being accused of improper conduct with priests.
O'Brien has also resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, though the Vatican insists that Benedict accepted his resignation purely because he O'Brien is nearing the retirement age of 75.
But O'Brien himself issued a statement today saying he's skipping the conclave to avoid becoming the focus of media attention at a delicate time for the Catholic Church.
It is the first time that a cardinal has recused himself from a conclave because of personal scandal, and comes in the wake of a grass-roots campaign to shame another cardinal, retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, into refraining from participating because of his role protecting sexually abusive priests.
Also today, Benedict changed the rules of the conclave, allowing cardinals to move up the start date if all of them arrive in Rome before the usual 15-day waiting period concludes.
163-c-10-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"well before then"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports that the sooner cardinals from around the world can get to Rome, the sooner Benedict's successor can be chosen. (25 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *163 (02/25/13)>> 00:10 "well before then"
164-c-15-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"into Easter week"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports that a likely key reason for changing the conclave rules is to have a new pope in place for Holy Week. (25 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *164 (02/25/13)>> 00:15 "into Easter week"
162-c-15-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"set of rules"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports that Pope Benedict has changed Vatican rules including allowing the cardinals to move up the start date of their conclave to elect a new pope. (25 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *162 (02/25/13)>> 00:15 "set of rules"
Opinions that are derogatory, attack other users or are offensive in nature may be removed. WTHI is not responsible for the content posted in this comment section. We reserve the right to remove any offensive or off-topic remark or thread. To mark a comment for review by a moderator, click "Report Abuse."