U.K. Cardinal's Resignation Amid Scandal Pushes Oscars Coverage to Back of News Reports

Stefan Dal Pozzolo/Vatican Pool for Getty Images

Before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the U.S in 2008, Maher called the church "a child-abusing religious cult" whose leader "has a compound," "operates outside the bounds of the law," "used to be a Nazi and wears funny hats."

Adele and Daniel Day Lewis enjoy the early morning spotlight before the exit of the highest-ranking representative of Britain's Catholic church.

LONDON – The resignation of Britain's most senior representative of the Roman Catholic church, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, pushed Adele, Daniel Day Lewis and the other British-born Oscar winners down in U.K. news coverage Monday.

The Oscars led early morning news shows as the best picture award was handed out in the early hours of Monday morning here. 

Then, O'Brien's resignation hit the headlines amid claims, which he contests, of "inappropriate behavior," meaning sexual advances, towards priests dating back to the 1980s. The news began to dominate the British news agenda with it leading the BBC and ITV news reports starting mid-morning Monday.

It follows revelations in Sunday newspaper The Observer, which reported that three priests and one former priest complained about O'Brien to the Pope's representative in Britain earlier this month, when Pope Benedict announced his shocking resignation.

In a statement Monday, O'Brien apologized to those he had offended for "failures" during his ministry. The cardinal also confirmed he would not take part in the papal election.

His resignation – just days before he was due to travel to Vatican City in Rome to vote in the election of a new pontiff – failed to attract sensational headlines in the typically colorful British tabloids though, with the British media soberly reporting his exit.

The Telegraph led its web coverage under the headline "Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigns over allegations of 'inappropriate' behavior," while The Times, owned and published by Rupert Murdoch's News International, carried the story on its home page under the headline: "Britain’s top Catholic cleric quits over scandal."

Those looking for a more acerbic tabloid reaction were left disappointed.

Murdoch's The Sun carried the story with a similar headline -- "Britain's Top Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien quits," while arch rival The Mirror reported it under the headline "Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigns in wake of allegations of inappropriate behavior."

Both The Independent and The Guardian used the phrase "inappropriate acts" in their headlines.

O'Brien's resignation also made headlines in newspapers in Italy, France, Ireland and India -- via The Times of India -- with the Washington Post reporting that the accusations against him were "escalating into a national furor."

It was the second time within weeks that church news dominated the headlines following the announcement of the Pope's resignation.

O'Brien said in his statement that he already had tendered his resignation as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh due to take effect when he turned 75 next month, but Pope Benedict "has now decided that my resignation will take effect today."

In his statement he said he did not wish "media attention in Rome to be focused on me -- but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor."