Catholic bishop Kieran Conry has resigned from his post saying he brought “shame” to his diocese and had been “unfaithful to his promises as a Catholic priest”.
While the direct reasons for his resignation are unclear the priest has said his actions “were not illegal and did not involve minors”.
The statement, which has been read across Conry’s Arundel and Brighton diocese this Sunday, said: “I have decided to offer my resignation as bishop with immediate effect and will now take some time to consider my future.
“I want to apologise first of all to the individuals hurt by my actions and then to all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this.
”I am sorry for the shame that I have brought on the diocese and the Church and I ask for your prayers and forgiveness.“
Originally from Coventry, Mr Conry studied for priesthood at the Venerable English College in Rome.
He attended the Gregorian University and was ordained in July 1975 at All Souls Church in Coventry by Archbishop George Patrick Dwyer of Birmingham.
He was consecrated as fourth bishop of Arundel and Brighton at Arundel Cathedral in June 2001.
Following Mr Conry's announcement, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference, said: ”This is a sad and painful moment.
“It makes clear that we are always a Church of sinners called to repentance and conversion and in need of God's mercy.
”All involved in this situation are much in my prayers today.“
Additional reporting from PA