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California bishop resigns; delayed report of sexual abuse

Catholic World News - June 30, 2011

A California bishop who was heavily criticized for his failure to report a priest’s sexual abuse has resigned.

Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa stepped down on June 30 at the age of 73—nearly two years short of the ordinary canonical retirement age. A Vatican announcement indicated that Pope Benedict had accepted the bishop’s resignation “in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.” That section allows for the resignation of a bishop who becomes unsuited for office “because of illness or some other grave reason.” A spokesman for the diocese said that Bishop Walsh is “very tired.”

Bishop Walsh narrowly escaped criminal charges in 2006 when it emerged that he had failed to inform authorities about sex-abuse admissions by Father Xavier Ochoa. By the time police learned of the charges, Ochoa had fled to Mexico, escaping prosecution. The bishop agreed to counseling, thus avoiding criminal charges against him. Both Bishop Walsh and the Santa Rosa diocese paid substantial fines for the delayed report.

Bishop Robert Vasa, formerly of Baker, Oregon diocese, was installed in March of this year as the coadjutor bishop of Santa Rosa. He now succeeds Bishop Walsh as the head of the diocese.

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