The Pope has accepted Cardinal Keith O'Brien's resignation in the wake of allegations of "inappropriate behaviour" made against him.
He had planned to stand down as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh on his 75th birthday next month and had already tendered his resignation.
After four men made allegations against him, he decided to stand down on Monday and will not travel to the conclave in Rome to elect the new Pope.
The full statement from Cardinal O'Brien read: "Approaching the age of seventy-five and at times in indifferent health, I tendered my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh to Pope Benedict XVI some months ago.
"I was happy to know that he accepted my resignation ‘nunc pro tunc’ – (now – but to take effect later) on 13 November 2012. The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today, 25 February 2013, and that he will appoint an Apostolic Administrator to govern the Archdiocese in my place until my successor as Archbishop is appointed. In the meantime I will give every assistance to the Apostolic Administrator and to our new Archbishop, once he is appointed, as I prepare to move into retirement.
"I have 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 apologise to all whom I have offended
"I thank Pope Benedict XVI for his kindness and courtesy to me and on my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Scotland, I wish him a long and happy retirement. I also ask God’s blessing on my brother Cardinals who will soon gather in Rome to elect his successor. I will not join them for this Conclave in person. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focussed 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.
"May God who has blessed me so often in my ministry continue to bless and help me in the years which remain for me on earth and may he shower his 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."
More About Cardinal Keith O'Brien
- How can the Catholic Church resolve the Cardinal O'Brien affair?
- Bishop of Motherwell felt 'betrayed' by Cardinal's sexual conduct
- Archbishop Tartaglia says Church 'dealt a serious blow' by Cardinal
- Cardinal O'Brien admits 'my sexual conduct has fallen below standards'
- Archbishop Tartaglia promises 'I will do my best' for Edinburgh
- Archbishop Tartaglia appointed Cardinal O'Brien's temporary replacement
- Cardinal Keith O'Brien resignation 'saddened' top Catholic cleric