Bishop John McAreavey sends resignation letter to Pope Francis
A Northern Ireland Catholic bishop caught up in controversy surrounding paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finnegan has sent his letter of resignation to Pope Francis.
After announcing his resignation through his solicitors on Thursday, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey has written to parishioners about his decision, saying it had been made "with a heavy heart".
Allegations of child abuse against Fr Malachy Finnegan - who was a teacher at St Colman's College in Newry from 1967 to 1976 and president for 11 years after that - were highlighted in a recent programme by BBC Spotlight.
He has been linked to a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils.
Bishop McAreavey conducted Fr Finnegan's funeral in 2002, having known about allegations of child abuse against the disgraced priest from as far back as the mid-1990s.
A lawyer for the victims of Fr Finnegan has called for an inquiry following revelations about his crimes.
In his statement Bishop McAreavey wrote: "I wrestled with this decision over recent weeks; it was not an easy decision to take. Following recent media coverage which has disturbed and upset many people, I decided on Thursday to resign."
"I would ask you first and foremost to continue to hold in your prayers those who have been abused and all who are suffering at this time."
Bishop McAreavey said the day-to-day administration of the Diocese would go to Canon Liam Stevenson until new arrangements are put in place, and priests of each parish have been designated to minister the Sacrament in relation to the upcoming celebration of the Confirmation.
He added: "To serve as Bishop of Dromore, my home Diocese, has been the greatest privilege of my life, though not without its challenges.
"Finally, I want to say thank you for your kindness and co-operation over my time as Bishop. Please keep me in your prayers, as I will keep you in mine."
Belfast Telegraph Digital