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Pope accepts resignation of Irish bishop in abuse scandal

DUBLIN - Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of an Irish bishop yesterday for his failure to report child-molesting priests to police - and faced a renewed reminder of the German abuse case most closely linked to his own time in charge of Munich.

Bishop John Magee, who was secretary to Benedict's three papal predecessors before returning to Ireland in 1987, apologized to victims of any pedophile priests kept in parish posts during his 23 years overseeing the southwest Irish diocese of Cloyne.

"To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have been made to suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon," Magee, 73, said.

The Vatican is on the defensive over ever-unfolding accusations that church leaders have protected child abusers for decades in many countries.

Benedict last week issued an unprecedented letter to Ireland addressing the 16 years of church cover-up scandals here.

But he has yet to say anything about his handling of the Rev. Peter Hullermann, the case known to have developed on the pope's watch when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he oversaw the Munich Archdiocese from 1977 to 1982. A New York Times report says correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin to then-Cardinal Ratzinger shows he and top Vatican officials were warned about abuse of as many as 200 deaf boys but failed to defrock the priest. - AP

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