Published Sunday, 03 March 2013
Keith O'Brien was born in Co Antrim and led Scotland's Catholics. (© Getty)
The cardinal was head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, before his resignation last week.
In a statement released by the church on Sunday, the Ballycastle cleric responded to allegations that he had acted inappropriately.
"I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal," he said.
The Ballycastle man previously denied newspaper allegations of improper behaviour and was said to be taking legal advice.
On Sunday Cardinal O'Brien said his initial rebuttal of any claims was due to "their anonymous and non-specific nature".
The allegations of inappropriate behaviour are believed to stretch back to the 1980s.
"To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness," he said, before also saying sorry to the Catholic Church and the people of Scotland.
"I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland."
Cardinal O'Brien, who was ordained a priest in 1965 after moving to Scotland, was by Pope Benedict's side during the historic Papal visit to the UK in 2010.
Appointed Archbishop of St Andrew's and Edinburgh in 1985, he eventually became Cardinal in 2003.
Cardinal O'Brien was due to retire later this month, but his resignation was accepted by the pope in February.
It is believed he is currently out of the country.
In the days before his resignation, the senior priest had called for the Catholic Church to end its celibacy rule. He has also spoken out against plans to legalise same sex marriage.