Over the last week it has been reported that three unnamed priests and a former priest have complained to the Vatican about "inappropriate advances" by the cardinal dating as far back as the 1980s. It is alleged that he used his position of power as a bishop to make unwanted approaches toward newer priests under his management.
The vocal opponent of same-sex marriage last year called the U.K. marriage equality plan "a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right." Just last week O'Brien said that priests should be allowed to marry and have families, as priestly celibacy is "not of divine origin."
The cardinal issued a statement following the announcement, saying "I also ask God's blessing on my brother Cardinals who will soon gather in Rome to elect [Pope Benedict's] successor. I will not join them for this Conclave in person. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me—but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and his successor."
Over the weekend, a spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church issued a statement saying Cardinal O'Brien "contests these claims and is taking legal advice."