July 21, 2018 / 12:01 AM / a month ago

Pope accepts Honduran bishop's resignation following misconduct allegations

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a senior Roman Catholic bishop in Honduras on Friday, following allegations of financial and sexual impropriety against the cleric.

Pope Francis delivers a speech after a meeting with Patriarchs of the churches of the Middle East at the St. Nicholas Basilica in Bari, southern Italy July 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Bishop Juan Jose Pineda Fasquelle announced the pontiff had accepted his resignation in an open letter, saying his departure would allow him more time for prayer and personal development.

“If I have failed you, I ask for forgiveness,” Pineda said in the letter, which was sent to reporters in Honduras.

Italian magazine L’Espresso first reported in December allegations that Pineda had misused tens of thousands of dollars from a Catholic university, as well as accusations of sexual abuse lodged against the bishop by seminarians.

Pineda, who did not directly address the allegations against him in the letter, said he maintained the right to continue public ministry in spite of his resignation as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa.

Neither Pineda nor the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa responded to requests for comment.

The 57-year-old Pineda is known as a protégé of influential Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, who serves as a top adviser to Pope Francis on church reform.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; editing by David Alire Garcia and Grant McCool

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