TODAY   |  March 04, 2013

UK priest admits to inappropriate sexual contact

Former Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned a week ago, has issued a statement effectively admitting inappropriate relations with other priests. Meanwhile, the Cardinals remain at the Vatican, preparing to select a new pope. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>>> let's start this morning with that meeting of catholic cardinals taking place at the vatican . keir simmons is in st. peter's square. what can you tell us?

>> reporter: good morning. as we speak, the leaders of the catholic church have just wrapped up the first of those crucial meetings. they've been meeting in the pope paul vi auditorium, which is down to my left here. the eyes of the world upon them. the decisions of the cardinals who gathered at the vatican this morning will be closely watched by more than a billion catholic catholics, many wanting change after a series of scandals.

>> i can imagine these meetings getting a bit chippy, challenging, interesting, not informal, but hard hitting at certain points.

>> reporter: former scottish cardinal keith o'brien would have been among them but announced his resignation last week. in a statement he was effectively admitted inappropriate sexual contact with other priests. he apologized, but the successor of pope benedict must put such things in the past. at this neighborhood church just a few miles from the vatican , cathol catholic parishioners know what they want. and already the new pontiff's gown has been made, displayed by tradition in the window of the papal tailor. now they must find the right man to wear it. not even the top three candidates. one of the first big decisions the cardinals should make, savannah, is when the selection process, the conclave, will start. savannah?

>> keir simmons , thank you.