(RNS) A Roman Catholic bishop in California resigned on Thursday (June 30), saying he is “exhausted” from dealing with clergy sexual abuse cases in his Santa Rosa diocese.
The Vatican announced that it had accepted Bishop Daniel F. Walsh’s request to step down, five years after he failed to inform police about an admitted sex abuser priest who then fled the country.
Catholic bishops are required to submit their resignation at age 75. Walsh, who turns 74 in October, resigned under a provision of church law for bishops who are ill, unable to fulfill their duties, or “some other grave cause.”
In February, Walsh announced that he had asked permission to resign because he was “exhausted from dealing with the clergy abuse cases that had arisen over the years.”
In April 2006, the Rev. Xavier Ochoa told Walsh that he had sexually abused young boys, but the diocese did not inform police until three days later, by which time Ochoa had gone to Mexico, where he reportedly remains.
The diocese paid $5 million to Ochoa’s victims, and Walsh underwent counseling as part of a deal to avoid criminal charges.
Walsh is succeeded by Bishop Robert F. Vasa, who was appointed as his coadjutor (designated successor) in March.
In his previous role as bishop of Baker, Oregon, Vasa was one of only two Latin Rite Catholic bishops in the U.S. who did not allow outside auditors to monitor whether his diocese was compliant with the child protection policies adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002.
Walsh’s immediate predecessor, George Patrick Ziemann, resigned in 1999, following a gay sex scandal and charges of abuse involving another priest.