Pope accepts Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation

At 11-00 am today, the Scottish Catholic Media Office made the following announcement:

“The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has accepted on the 18 February 2013 the resignation of His Eminence Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh.   This information will be announced and published in the Osservatore Romano of Monday 25 February 2013.

 The Cardinal had already presented last November his resignation in view of his 75th birthday on 17 March 2013, and it was accepted by the Holy Father with the formula ‘nunc pro tunc’ (now for later).   Given the imminent Vacant See, the Holy Father has now decided to accept the said resignation definitively.”

“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”.

The full Press Release may be read here.


Cardinal O’Brien has been an outspoken critic of plans to legalise same-sex marriage and a strong supporter of Catholic teaching on abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality. Recently, he called for the Catholic Church to end its celibacy rule for the priesthood suggesting that many priests struggled to cope with celibacy and should be allowed to marry if they wished.

The Observer reported that in the week before Benedict XVI announced his resignation, three priests and a former priest from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, lodged a complaint with nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, alleging inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years.

Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation will have widespread repercussions both in Scotland and in the wider Church as it seeks to address an already difficult situation following Pope Benedict’s unprecedented resignation and the preparations ahead of the conclave.


Details of the conclave have been clarified in the motu proprio Normas nunnullas, issued by the Pope today in Latin and Italian, although an English translation is available on the Rorate Caeli blog, [an unofficial translation provided by the Vatican Information Service, modified where applicable].  However, some Roman Catholic canon lawyers have suggested that there is some uncertainty regarding the practical
implementation of the motu proprio, here and here.