Disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien blocked an independent inquiry into cases of historic sexual abuse a year before resigning over his own inappropriate sexual conduct, according to the Roman Catholic Church.
The Bishops' Conference of Scotland commissioned a report into allegations of abuse in 2011, but it was halted the following year when Cardinal O'Brien, the then-president of the conference, withdrew his support.
He stepped down as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in February after three priests and a former priest made allegations of inappropriate behaviour against him.
Cardinal O'Brien issued an apology at the time, saying, ''There have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me''.
A statement said that Pope Francis had agreed with the decision but did not say whether it was the pope's idea that O'Brien should leave for what the Vatican said would be "several months for the purpose of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance".
The statement did not say where the Cardinal was going.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who admitted that his sexual conduct had "fallen beneath the standards" expected of him when he resigned, "will be leaving Scotland for several months for the purpose of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance."
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, who resigned as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland after acknowledging sexual misconduct, will leave Scotland for months of "prayer and penance", the Vatican said.
A statement said O'Brien, who was Britain's most senior Catholic cleric until his resignation in February, would be leaving his country "for the same reasons" that he decided not to participate in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia has told a congregation not to be 'defeatists' after Cardinal Keith O'Brien admitted his "sexual conduct fell below standards expected" during his time as a religious leader.
Archbishop Tartaglia said, "As for the Church’s mission in our country, yes our credibility and moral authority have been undermined. It will take time, perhaps a long time to recover these intangible but important realities.
"But we cannot be defeatist. The answer to this sad episode is not to throw in the towel.
"We need, rather, to renew our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to go about our business humbly."
Cardinal Keith O'Brien's temporary successor has told a congregation there is little doubt the credibility and moral authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland has been "dealt a serious blow".
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, who is the Archbishop of Glasgow and apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of St Andrew's and Edinburgh, broke the Church's silence over Cardinal O'Brien's behaviour at a pre-scheduled Lent Mass in Glasgow tonight, saying;
This is a sad moment for the Church in our country.
The events around Cardinal O'Brien, his resignation, his statement of yesterday, have left us all very sad for everyone involved and for the Church.
Many reproaches have been aimed at the Church and at individuals over this matter.
The most stinging charge which has been levelled against us in this matter is hypocrisy, and for obvious reasons.
I think there is little doubt that the credibility and moral authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland has been dealt a serious blow, and we will need to come to terms with that.
Cardinal O'Brien is to face a Vatican inquiry after admitting yesterday that his sexual conduct "had fallen beneath the standards" expected of him during his almost 50-year career.