The intrigue around the papal conclave reached new heights this week when Irish-born Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland abruptly resigned after allegations of inappropriate behavior made by four priests against him surfaced.

The priests apparently were determined that O’Brien would not vote at the conclave, and made representations to the British-based papal nuncio even though the incidents occurred 30 years ago in some cases.

The Pope acted with alacrity and essentially forced O’Brien to reign.

Still unanswered is whether Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles will vote in the conclave, as his refusal to prosecute pedophile priests in his archdiocese led to horrific consequences.

There are also simmering questions about Irish Cardinal Sean Brady, who covered up the dreadful Father Brendan Smyth scandals, and even about Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who was examined by lawyers last week on events in Milwaukee when he was archbishop there.

All in all the atmosphere around the conclave is fraught to say the least, with other evidence about a gay pressure group allegedly blackmailing high level Vatican figures according to several reports.

Before he resigned, O’Brien had made an excellent case for ending celibacy and allowing priest to marry.

He made it plain there was absolutely nothing in church law that prevented that, and it was not an infallible teaching.

There is no question that if priests were allowed to behave normally, get married, have children, etc., we would have nothing like the shocking behavior we are witnessing now.

The attempt to frustrate the natural sexual instincts of men has led to deviant behavior from pedophiles who have found the perfect refuge in the church.

The fact is, as O’Brien noted, Anglican priests who turned to Catholicism and who are married already make the rule moot.

Allowing priests to marry would reenergize the church and bring in many new vocations from people who want to do the Lord’s work as they see it, but not remain celibate.

If a Pope can resign surely a priest can marry. Both were thought unthinkable just a few weeks ago, but no more.