Bishop quits over Irish abuse scandal

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Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation yesterday of Bishop John Magee, a former papal aide accused of endangering children by failing to follow Irish church's rules on reporting suspected paedophile priests to police.

Magee apologised to victims of any paedophile priests who were kept in parish posts since he took charge of the southwest Irish diocese of Cloyne in 1987. "To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon," the 73-year-old Magee said.

He had been expected to resign since a church-commissioned investigation into the mishandling of abuse reports in Cloyne ruled two years ago that Magee and senior aides failed to tell police quickly about two 1990s cases.

The Vatican is on the defensive over ever-unfolding accusations that its leaders protected child abusers for decades in many countries, nowhere more so than Ireland.

Irish society is still debating Saturday's unprecedented letter from Benedict apologising for decades of unchecked child abuse. The letter criticised Irish bishops but accepted no Vatican responsibility. Benedict also has yet to accept resignation offers from three other Irish bishops linked to cover-ups.