Cardinal Keith O'Brien has admitted his "sexual conduct fell below standards expected" during his time as a religious leader. The Cardinal, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, resigned last Monday after claims of "inappropriate" behaviour.
Gay rights groups have expressed their hopes that whoever is selected to replace Cardinal Keith O'Brien will do more to champion their cause.
The director of Stonewall Scotland, a charity that recently voted Cardinal O'Brien "bigot of the year", said he hoped a successor would "show a little more Christian charity towards openly gay people than the Cardinal did himself".
Tom French from the Equality Network said he hopes "that the Catholic Church in Scotland will use the opportunity new leadership brings to reassess its opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality."
Scotland's First Minister has spoken of his sadness at the resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, whom he described as a "good man for his church and country".
Responding to the announcement that the leader of Scotland's Roman Catholic Community is stepping down with immediate effect, Alex Salmond said: "I hear the news of Cardinal O'Brien's resignation with the greatest sadness.
"In all of my dealings with the Cardinal, he has been a considerate and thoughtful leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland.
Stressing that claims made against the Cardinal are still being investigated, Mr Salmond said: "It would be a great pity if a lifetime of positive work was lost from comment in the circumstances of his resignation."
I thank Pope Benedict XVI for his kindness and courtesy to me and, on my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Scotland, I wish him a long and happy retirement. I also ask God's blessing on my brother Cardinals who will soon gather in Rome to elect his successor.
I will pray with them and for them that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they will make the correct choice for the future good of the Church.
May God who has blessed me so often in my ministry continue to bless and help me in the years which remain for me on Earth and may he shower his blessings on all the peoples of Scotland, especially those I was privileged to serve in a special way in the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh.
Cardinal O'Brien said he would not be joining the conclave to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, saying: "I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me - but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor."
Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour, confirmed that he is to step down immediately, saying: "The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today."
ITV News understands that Cardinal Keith O'Brien will no longer be taking part in the papal conclave to elect the next Pope. He felt it would be too much of a distraction in light of the allegations he is facing.
Cardinal O'Brien was due to travel to the Vatican this week to help choose the next Pope.