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Pope accepts retirement of outspoken Australian bishop

April 04, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has replaced an Australian bishop who was an outspoken critic of the Church’s handling of sex-abuse complaints, and had clashed with the Vatican on several occasions because of his own unusual pastoral initiatives.

The Vatican announced on April 4 that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Malone as head of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese. He will be replaced by Bishop-elect William Wright, a priest of the Sydney archdiocese.

The Vatican announcement did not provide a detailed explanation for the resignation of Bishop Malone, who at 71 is 4 years short of the usual retirement age. However, Bishop Malone had indicated that he felt exhausted by the demands of coping with the sex-abuse crisis. Two years ago he had asked the Vatican to appoint a coadjutor to help ease his workload and prepare for his departure.

Bishop Malone had been a harsh critic of the Church’s response to sex-abuse complaints. He had frequently expressed misgivings about Church teaching and discipline on other matters, occasionally drawing rebukes from Rome.. ‘‘For a whole raft of reasons, including sexual abuse by some clergy, the church’s credibility has suffered,’’ he said.


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