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Pope accepts Irish bishop's resignation

VATICAN CITY, March 24 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, Ireland, a year after Magee stepped down.

The pope's action this week followed a pastoral letter Saturday apologizing to Roman Catholics in Ireland for the church's failure to protect children from sexual molestation, The Daily Telegraph reported. Three other Irish bishops have recently offered their resignations, which the pope has not yet accepted.

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The sexual abuse scandal began in the United States. It spread to Ireland last year when two government reports detailed abuse of children in orphanages and other church-run institutions and sexual molestation by parish priests.

The New York Times reported Wednesday a number of Vatican officials -- including Benedict before he became pope -- declined during the 1990s to defrock a U.S. priest who had molested as many as 200 deaf boys. The officials had received repeated warnings from U.S. bishops about the matter.

The newspaper said its report was based on newly unearthed church files connected to a lawsuit involving the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy. The documents include correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger but the file does not include a response from Ratzinger.

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There have been allegations Benedict as bishop of Munich allowed a priest accused of sexual misconduct to be transferred.

Magee, 73, served as a private secretary to Pope John Paul II and his predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul I. The Vatican released only a brief statement saying his resignation was being accepted.

"I wish him all God's blessings in his retirement," said Archbishop Dermot Clifford, now serving as apostolic administrator in Cloyne. "I ask for the continued prayers and support of the lay faithful, priests and religious of the Diocese of Cloyne for all those who have suffered abuse."

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