US bishop resigns after death crash hit-run charges

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The Independent US

The Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, today resigned after being involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

Bishop Thomas O'Brien, who admitted earlier this month that he knowingly allowed sexually abusive priests to work with children, is accused of running over a 43-year-old man and leaving the scene, an offence that carries a three-year jail sentence. By the time police confronted him, he had made extensive inquiries about repairing his partially shattered windscreen.

Pope John Paul accepted the bishop's resignation, although the Vatican did not give a specific reason for the bishop's decision to resign.

In a two-line announcement, it said the pope had accepted Bishop O'Brien's resignation as the spiritual leader of Arizona's 430,000 Catholics under a clause of Church law allowing a cleric to resign for illness or "some other grave reason" that makes him "unsuited for the fulfillment of his office."

Bishop O'Brien, aged 67, had told police he thought he had hit a dog or cat. He was arrested and later released on $45,000 (£27,000) bail.

He has reached a deal with prosecutors under which he admitted allowing abusive priests to continue working with children, but agreed to the appointment of an internal church watchdog.