Revelations that the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Britain had a secret sex life cast a shadow over the first day of a meeting of the Church's cardinals as they gathered to choose a successor to Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus.
The 142 "princes of the church" met in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican to discuss the Church's problems and the sort of qualities required of the new pope to deal with them.
But officials in Rome and the Vatican's representative to Britain flatly refused to discuss how long Benedict XVI had known about the accusations against Cardinal O'Brien or how many accusers there are.
After denying that he had made sexual advances to four men – three priests and one former priest – Cardinal O'Brien issued a statement on Sunday confessing that his "sexual conduct" had fallen far below the standard expected.
It came a week after he stepped down as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and announced that he would stay away from the con...