But he added: “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. To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness … I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”
The cardinal had been due to retire by the end of March when he turned 75. He did not play a part in the conclave that elected Pope Francis in March.
Cardinal O’Brien has been one of Scotland’s most outspoken opponents of moves to legalise same-sex marriage. Last year his stance earned him the bigot of the year award from the gay rights group Stonewall.