LONDON -- Britain's most senior Catholic cleric resigned yesterday, 24 hours after allegations against him by four priests of "inappropriate behavior" dating back 30 years were published in a national newspaper.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Catholic primate of Scotland, contested the allegations and was reported to be seeking legal advice, but in a surprise move said he would be stepping down immediately as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.

He said he would not participate in the election of the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

"I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me," O'Brien said.

Elevated to cardinal in 2003, O'Brien would have been Britain's only representative at the conclave next month that will elect the next pope, following Benedict's resignation. He remains a cardinal, with full voting rights to participate in the conclave.

-- Los Angeles Times

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