An auxiliary bishop in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has resigned after admitting to several affairs with women, becoming the fourth U.S. bishop to step down in the sex abuse scandal rocking the church.
Auxiliary Bishop James F. McCarthy, 59, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shrub Oak in Westchester County, admitted to the affairs after they were brought to the attention of church officials in a letter that arrived Saturday.
The announcement Tuesday came only hours after the Vatican ( news – web sites) accepted the resignation of Bishop J. Kendrick Williams, 65, of Lexington, Ky., who was accused in three sex abuse cases.
In a written statement, Williams denied the allegations brought against him. “I do not want my resignation to give any credence to the allegations made against me,” he said.
As news of Williams’ resignation spread, many in the Catholic community gathered in churches throughout Lexington to offer prayers and support.
“It’s just so sad and hard to understand,” said 86-year-old Jim Cloud. “I’ve known the bishop for a lot of years. I could never imagine he could ever do the things he’s been accused of.”
The alleged incidents took place in 1969 and 1981, while Williams was a parish priest in Louisville. Under a diocesan policy he instituted several years ago, he went on administrative leave May 22 — the day after the first allegation was made public.
“As much as I hate to lose his leadership and guidance, he was in an extremely difficult situation. The allegations ended his ability to minister freely,” said the Rev. Dan Noll of Saint Peter Catholic Church, who has known Williams for more than two decades.
In New York, the archdiocese said McCarthy’s affairs took place over the course of several years. Church officials said they will cooperate with prosecutors if any legal issues arise from the affairs.
“I acknowledge that I had an improper relationship with a woman that included sexual contact that began when she was approximately 21 years old,” McCarthy said in a statement issued Tuesday night. “I also acknowledge that I had improper sexual contact with other women.”
Archbishop Edward Egan Egan said, “I take this opportunity to express my personal care and concern for all involved in this situation, in particular any women and their families who may have been hurt, and Bishop McCarthy as well.”
Just two months ago, McCarthy had spoken about how the ongoing scandal involving sexual abuse by priests had eroded the relationship between priests and their parishioners.
The resignations came two days before the start of a gathering by American bishops in Dallas to decide on proposals to deal with sexual abuse in the clergy.
In other developments:
The Salt Lake City Diocese said three priests were removed from their posts after the bishop reviewed 50 years of abuse allegations. The allegations aren’t recent, said Monica Howa-Johnson, communications director for the diocese.
In Paterson, N.J., Bishop Frank J. Rodimer vowed to reimburse the diocese $250,000 for part of a legal settlement it paid on his behalf to the family of a young sexual abuse victim. “I don’t think he has any obligation to repay, but it’s his choice and he’s the boss,” said Kenneth Mullaney, the diocese’s lawyer.
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput said he supports a policy that allows for no second chances for abusive priests. Chaput also said that no known abusers are serving in the Denver archdiocese.
A 30-year-old woman filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Cleveland Diocese alleging that a priest groped and kissed her when she was in grade school. Robert Tayek, a church spokesman, said the diocese had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
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