US bishop resigns after alleged paedophile flees

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Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday accepted the resignation of a US bishop accused of allowing an alleged paedophile priest from his diocese to flee to Mexico, as the Vatican takes action on abuses.

Bishop Daniel Walsh of the diocese of Santa Rosa in California resigned under an article in Catholic Church law invoking a “grave cause”, which can include a failure by the prelate in question to denounce a case of paedophilia.

Walsh, 74, is one year younger than the minimum retirement age for bishops.

Benedict last year called for a zero tolerance approach to child abuse by clergymen and called on bishops to work together with local law enforcement, following thousands of paedophile scandals across Europe and the United States.

Father Xavier Ochoa admitted to the bishop in April 2006 that he had abused young boys but the police were only told three days later by a diocesan lawyer.

By that time, Ochoa had fled to Mexico where he is still at large.

The diocese was ordered to pay five million dollars (3.5 million euros) to the three victims, as well as 20,000 dollars from Walsh personally.

The alleged acts committed by Ochoa included rape and forced oral sex.

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