Church leaders said it was a "sad moment" following an admission from Britain's most senior Catholic cleric that his sexual conduct "had fallen beneath the standards" expected of him.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien will face a Vatican inquiry, though it is unlikely to be before a new Pope is chosen.
Three priests and a former priest accused the cleric of inappropriate behaviour dating back to the 1980s.
– Cardinal Keith O'Brien
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.
The cardinal, who stepped down from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in the wake of the scandal, has asked for forgiveness.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien's temporary successor Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said it was a "sad moment" for the church.