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Belgian bishop quits over child sex abuse

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roger Joseph Vangheluwe admitted abusing boy over several years
  • Catholic Church reeling from accusations of sexual abuse by clergy
  • Pope accepted resignation of third Irish bishop on Thursday
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(CNN) -- Belgian bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe has resigned after admitting to sexually abusing a child, a spokesman for the Brussels bishop said Friday.

Vangheluwe abused a boy over a period of several years in Bruges, Belgium, said Eric de Beukelaer, the spokesman. The archbishop of Brussels and other church officials briefed reporters about the resignation on Friday. They said Vangheluwe declined interview request and that he wants to be left in peace.

In accepting the resignation, the Vatican cited a section of canon law that allows clergy to resign "because of illness or some other grave reason" or if they have "become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office."

The Catholic Church across Europe has been reeling from accusations of sexual abuse by clergy members and several bishops have resigned.

On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of an Irish bishop, Jim Moriarty, who was not accused of abusing children himself but said he should have done more to stop it.

"The decision to offer my resignation was the most difficult decision of my ministry," Moriarty said in a statement.

He was the third Irish bishop to resign amid accusations of abuse.

Also on Thursday, German bishop Walter Mixa offered to step down after he was accused of hitting children in his care and misusing money donated to an orphanage, the German television station Deutsche Welle reported.

In a brief statement released Thursday, Mixa asked "forgiveness" from those "to whom I have done an injustice and all those I have saddened."

The pope did not respond immediately to Mixa's offer to step down.

CNN's Mark Bixler and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

 
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