Ron Wolf, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said on Friday that Archbishop Robert Sanchez had asked the Pope for permission to resign from the post he has held since 1974.
A Vatican spokeswoman would not comment on the case until the Pope decided whether to accept the resignation.
'It is my personal desire to thoroughly evaluate my life and ministry before God so that I may have a clear vision of my life and ministry for the future,' Archbishop Sanchez said in a letter released by the archdiocese.
On 8 March the archdiocese notified the Vatican of allegations that Archbishop Sanchez had sexual relationships with as many as five women during the 1970s and early 1980s.
In a statement released by the archdiocese the next day, Archbishop Sanchez wrote that he had 'decided to make public certain allegations of misconduct', and 'there has been much pain and suffering for many as a result'. The archbishop asked forgiveness for any pain, harm and disappointment caused by the allegations, which he has neither confirmed nor denied.
CBS television's 60 Minutes plans to carry a report on Archbishop Sanchez today. At least three women are expected to recount details of their relationships with the archbishop, who has been on retreat for two weeks.
Ron Wolf, the chancellor, told a local television station he had seen videotapes of 'three young women who indicated that they had been sexually abused by the archbishop during the 1970s, maybe into the early 1980s'. Rev Wolf said the women in the videotapes he had seen described having 'consensual' sexual intercourse with Archbishop Sanchez. Local newspapers reported that the three women came from devout Catholic families and began their relationships with the archbishop when they were in their late teens.
The women's accusations are the latest in a series of allegations of sexual misconduct that have rocked the archdiocese in recent years, most involving claims that priests sexually abused boys.
Archbishop Sanchez, 59, was a parish priest in Albuquerque in 1974 when Pope Paul VI made him the Archbishop of Santa Fe. The archdiocese covers 90 parishes containing 300,000 registered Catholics.
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