Pope Benedict today accepted the resignation of an under-fire Irish bishop over his "inexcusable" mishandling of a child sex abuse case.
Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray has faced severe criticism since his failure to deal with a paedophile priest in the Dublin Archdiocese was exposed in a state inquiry.
In a statement the Vatican said the pontiff agreed the bishop should stand down.
"His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Donal Murray, Bishop of Limerick," the Church said.
Bishop Murray, who spent 10 days with senior Catholic churchmen in Rome as he weighed up his future, apologised in person to mass-goers in St John's Cathedral in Limerick.
"I humbly apologise once again to all who were abused as little children," he told the congregation, which included priests of the diocese.
"To all survivors of abuse, I repeat that my primary concern is to assist in every way that I can, on their journey towards finding closure and serenity."
The senior cleric was found by a State inquiry to have let down child sex abuse victims' families by mishandling complaints and his failure to reinvestigate suspicions against one paedophile priest was branded inexcusable.