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Cleveland bishop resigns

December 28, 2016

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard Lennon from the governance of the Diocese of Cleveland, the Holy See Press Office announced on December 28.

The official Vatican announcement gave no reason for the bishop’s resignation, which took place six years before the episcopal retirement age of 75. At a Wednesday-morning press conference, however, the Cleveland diocese said that Bishop Lennon had stepped down for health reasons. In February, the prelate had required emergency cardiac surgery. He disclosed on Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, a malady similar to Alzheimer’s disease, caused by restricted flow of blood to the brain.

Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1973, Bishop Lennon was named a Boston auxiliary bishop in 2001. In the wake of the clerical abuse scandal and the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, Bishop Lennon served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Boston from December 2002 to July 2003.

In 2006, Bishop Lennon was named bishop of Cleveland. Five years later, amid anger over the closing of 50 parishes, the Vatican conducted an apostolic visitation and overturned 12 of the closings the following year.

In an unusually candid 2012 letter to clergy, Bishop Lennon acknowledged “a growing disconnect” between himself and many priests of his diocese.

Bishop Daniel Edward Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, will serve temporarily as apostolic administrator of the Cleveland diocese until a new bishop is named.

 
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