Weekends with Alex Witt | March 03, 2013
>>> breaking news from rome where vatican city celebrated sunday mass today without a sitting pope. and a bombshell apology from one of the cardinals. let's go straight to nbc's claudio. let's talk about what cardinal brian did. he released a statement today. what can you tell us about that?
>> reporter: as you remember, alex , cardinal o'brien resigned as archbishop just a few days ago and decided to not come to the conclave. the first time a cardinal decides not to participate in the election of a pope because of a scandal that engulfs him. well, the allegations made against him were by a number of priests that said that he had improper contact with them when they were young seminarists under his supervision. today just a short while ago the catholic scottish media office issued a statement by o'brien in which he admits those allegations were true. let me just read the statement to you. it says cardinal o'brien says in recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. initially, their anonymous and nonspecific nature led me to contest them. however, 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 apologize and ask for forgiveness. to the catholic church and the people of scotland, i apologize. as you can see, alex , an admission of guilt that comes at a very strange timing, of course, when the cardinals are about to meet in their general congregation from tomorrow during which time they will have to decide the date of the start on the conclave. this admission of guilt that comes just a few hours before this meeting certainly will cast a dark cloud over them. alex ?
>> a dark cloud , indeed. but do you think there may be a specific reaction because of this? i mean, might the conclave be pushed back? do they have to deal with this? what kind of a public relations nightmare is this?
>> i don't think that the conclave will be pushed back. but this will put pressure on other cardinals that were engulfed of different scandals. but still of sexual nature. for instance, cardinal mahoney of los angeles has been much criticized for having come to rome. he will participate in the conclave anyway despite the fact that his detractors say he covered up a number of abuses that were performed by priests that he had under his supervision while he was cardinal. these detractors say he helped them to escape justice. so that will put pressure on him to either make a move or defend himself in front of the other cardinals. but this is what the general congregation is from tomorrow onward. they will have to talk about issues that are facing the catholic church including this one, of course.
>> absolutely. relative to the conclave and actually a much bigger issue. that conversation needs to be had here. thank you