|Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet. (QMI Agency files)
Differing accounts emerged Tuesday about the role Canada's top Catholic played in the sex-charged resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien.
British newspaper The Telegraph reported Monday that Cardinal Marc Ouellet was involved in negotiations with O'Brien, who admitted Sunday that he engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Ouellet is the prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and a potential successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
The Telegraph reported that the Vatican knew for more than five months that three priests and a former priest had accused O'Brien of having made sexual advances.
A fifth man, also a priest, would later join them, making similar allegations against the former Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.
O'Brien announced his resignation in late February admitted Sunday that his "sexual conduct" was well below the expected standards of a priest.
The Telegraph reported that the Vatican has said O'Brien quit around November last year, prompting speculation that the Vatican agreed with the cardinal a month ago that he would resign quietly to avoid embarrassing the church.
"It has been alleged that the deal was brokered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada," the Telegraph reported.
The Archdiocese of Quebec City, where Ouellet served as archbishop for several years, disputed the story. On Tuesday, spokeswoman Jasmine Lemieux-Lefebvre said the investigation into O'Brien's conduct was prompt.
"The fact that Cardinal Ouellet and his team were able to verify the allegations and to get one of the most important Catholic Church figures in Britain to resign, and in less than three months, is considered a masterful tour de force by some observers," she said.
The Vatican has refused to comment on this story or say whether a formal investigation has been opened into the scandal, the Telegraph reported.