Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop of Cloyne John Magee.
The Vatican made the announcement at 11am.
Bishop Magee stood aside last March over his mishandling of abuse allegations in his diocese.
The cleric, from Newry, Co Down, faced scathing criticism after the Church's own watchdog found he took minimal action on accusations against two of his priests and branded his child protection inadequate and dangerous.
Bishop Magee apologised when the watchdog's report was first published before Christmas 2008 but he refused to resign.
Although Pope Benedict did not specify why he was accepting the bishop's resignation, it is understood that the findings of the Independent Board for the Protection of Children in the Catholic Church precipitated the decision.
The Diocese of Cloyne is currently under investigation by the Murphy Commission, which reported last year on the cover-ups of clerical child abuse in the Dublin diocese over half a century.
In a statement today Bishop Magee said he wanted to sincerely apologise to victims of abuse in Cloyne.
'To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon,' he said.
He said he takes full responsibility for child protection failures and pledged to continue working with Judge Yvonne Murphy's inquiry into the handling of abuse allegations in the diocese.
'I also sincerely hope that the work and the findings of the Commission of Investigation will be of some help towards healing for those who have been abused,' he said.
'I welcome the fact that my offer of resignation has been accepted, and I thank the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese for their support during my time as Bishop of Cloyne, and assure them of a place in my prayers always.'
Responding to the announcement, Cardinal Seán Brady said in a statement: 'I wish to acknowledge the long and varied ministry of Bishop John Magee in the Church. I thank him for his contribution to the work of the Irish Bishops' Conference over the past twenty years, particularly in the area of liturgy. I assure him of my prayers at this time and wish him good health in his retirement.'
'However, foremost in my thoughts in these days are those who have suffered abuse by clergy and those who feel angry and let down by the often inadequate response of leaders in the Church,' he said.
The 73-year-old bishop once served in Rome as personal secretary to Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II.
His daily duties were taken over by Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of neighbouring Cashel and Emly, last year.