VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict accepted the resignation on Tuesday of a bishop in Chile accused of sexually abusing a minor, the latest in a series of such scandals to rock the Roman Catholic Church.
The Vatican did not specify the reason for the resignation of Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of the city of Iquique but it followed a complaint by a local man, Rodrigo Pino, who said he had been abused by the prelate when he was 15.
The Vatican, as it has done in similar cases, said only that the resignation was in conformity with an article of Church law which says bishops must step down if they are unable to fulfill their duties because of health or “another serious reason”.
The Chilean Bishops Conference said last week that Ordenes was put under investigation after the complaint and had taken medical leave.
A series of sexual abuse scandals by clerics have proved one of the most difficult challenges to the Catholic Church, forcing it to pay tens of millions of dollars in compensation.
The scandal has led to the resignation of a number of bishops in Europe but most were accused of mishandling cases of sexual abuse and not having been abusers themselves.
Ordenes’ resignation as bishops from around the world met at the Vatican to discuss how to woo back lapsed Catholics in developed countries, where the Church is battling increasing secularism in places where it was once strong.
Many Catholics say they have left the Church in disgust over the sexual abuse scandals of the last 12 years.
Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Philip Pullella and Louise Ireland