UK Cardinal skips conclave amid accusations

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UK Cardinal to skip conclave amid improper conduct accusations

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s highest-ranking Catholic leader, said today he wouldn’t take part in the conclave to elect the next pope after being accused of improper conduct with priests.

O’Brien issued a statement today saying he would skip the conclave because he didn’t want to become the focus of media attention at such a delicate time for the church.

O’Brien said through his spokesman that he is contesting allegations made Sunday in a British newspaper that three priests and a former priest have filed complaints to the Vatican alleging that the cardinal acted inappropriately with them.

This comes in the wake of a grass-roots campaign to shame another cardinal, retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, into refraining from participating because of his role protecting sexually abusive priests.

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