High-profile resignation in Irish church abuse scandal

Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:11pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - An Irish Catholic bishop who was personal secretary to three popes became Wednesday the latest and biggest casualty in the child sexual abuse scandal that is convulsing the Church in Europe.

The Vatican said Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, Ireland.

Magee, 73, was accused in a 2009 investigation of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. He quit his daily administrative duties a year ago and offered his resignation to the pope this month.

"To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon," Magee said in a statement.

Four other Irish bishops who have come under criticism for their handling of sexual abuse cases have offered their resignations to the pope. He has accepted only one of them.

There have been growing calls in Ireland for the head of the Irish Church, Cardinal Sean Brady, to resign over his involvement in covering up a case of sexual abuse when he was a priest in 1975. But Brady, who has defended Magee in the past, has not yet tendered his resignation to the pope.

The bishop from southern Ireland was the most high-profile head to roll in a scandal that has gripped Ireland and has spread to a number of other European countries, including the pope's native Germany.

In Germany, the government announced it had set up a panel to investigate cases of abuse of children in Catholic as well as Protestant and secular schools.   Continued...