guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 February 2013 12.58 GMT
The former leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales has denied that the Vatican forced Cardinal Keith O'Brien to step down early amid allegations of "inappropriate acts" against fellow priests.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor insisted that no pressure was brought to bear on the former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh to quit ahead of schedule or to stay away from the conclave to choose the next pope.
"It was up to his own conscience that he stepped down. He wasn't asked to; he decided to do that," said Murphy-O'Connor. "As he said in his statement, I think he thought it would be a distraction to be in Rome. I think that was the main reason, the media attention.
"It was his decision to do so. He wasn't forced to do so; he wasn't asked to do so. He thought that given the publicity over the allegations, which are being contested by the cardinal, that was a better thing to do."