Pope Francis has been criticised after accepting the de facto resignation of the British Cardinal disgraced in a sex scandal without any follow-up on the allegations against him, reports AFP on Yahoo7.
A statement from the Vatican on Friday said Francis had accepted former Archbishop Keith O'Brien's resignation of the rights and privileges of a cardinal in a highly unusual move, for which the last precedent dates from 1927.
It came two years after Cardinal O'Brien stepped down as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, having admitted inappropriate sexual behaviour towards priests in the 1980s.
At the time of his resignation, Cardinal O'Brien was the most senior Catholic churchman in Britain and an outspoken critic of homosexuality -- which he described as a "moral degradation" -- and gay marriage.
He was exposed as a hypocrite when several priests who had been in his charge, one of whom had left the priesthood, came forward with testimony that he had made unwanted sexual advances to them, often after late night drinking sessions.
In a statement, the Vatican said the resignation had been presented "after a long period of prayer" -- a formulation which means the matter was dealt with by the Pope personally, without reference to an internal Church court.
"With this provision, His Holiness would like to manifest his pastoral solicitude to all the faithful of the Church in Scotland and to encourage them to continue with hope the path of renewal and reconciliation," the statement added.
SNAP, a global campaign group on the issue of clerical sex abuse which counts many victims among its activists, criticised the pope's handling of the issue. "As it has done with dozens of abusive prelates, the Vatican is disclosing nothing about O'Brien's wrongdoing," SNAP spokeswoman Barbara Dorris said.