Pope replaces Australian bishop in alleged misconduct investigation

Pope Francis replaced an Australian bishop who resigned amid Vatican investigation into what Australian media described as allegations of sexual misconduct

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis replaced an Australian bishop on Saturday who resigned amid a Vatican investigation into what Australian media described as allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Vatican has said Francis has accepted Bishop Christopher Alan Saunders’ resignation as head of the Diocese of Broome in the state of Western Australia. Francis appointed another prelate, Bishop Michael Henry Morrissey of the Diocese of Geraldton, to temporarily administer the sprawling Catholic Diocese of Broome.

The Vatican, in keeping with its custom of announcing the resignation of bishops, has cited no reason to replace Saunders. At 71, he is four years younger than the age at which the Vatican requires bishops to tender their resignation to the pontiff.

Australian media cited Saunders as strongly denying any wrongdoing and willingly offering to step down. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported earlier this year that police and prosecutors decided not to lay criminal charges.

Parishioners in the diocese were told in May that the Vatican investigation was underway, Australian media reported.

Details of the case were not immediately available. Saunders was reportedly on sabbatical.


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