A Catholic bishop stepped down yesterday just six days before child sex abuse audits into two dioceses where he served are due to be published.
Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty's resignation on health grounds was accepted by Pope Benedict just two weeks after offering it. He left his post immediately.
Two separate audits of the Derry and Raphoe dioceses, carried out into how the church dealt with paedophile priests, have been pencilled in for release next Tuesday or Wednesday, sources have said.
However, previous dates set aside for the release of the reports carried out by the church-run National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) have been postponed.
Church insiders say the contents of audits being carried out by the organisation have been seen by retired Bishop Hegarty as well as the current Bishop of Raphoe, Philip Boyce.
Donegal-born Dr Hegarty served as Bishop of Raphoe from 1982 until 1994 before taking up his position in Derry, where he admitted this year that allegations of child sex abuse had been made against 26 priests over the past 50 years.
Allegations against up to 20 priests have been made in the Raphoe diocese over a similar period.