Archbishop Richard Burke of Benin City in Nigeria has resigned from his post as he informed St Patrick’s Missionary Society that he had failed to observe his oath of celibacy.
Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of the County Tipperary born priest. The decision was confirmed via a message on the Vatican website.
His resignation follows a complaint made by Dolores Atwood last year. She claimed that she had been sexually abused by Richard Burke when she was 14-years-old and he was a priest in the Warri Diocese of Nigeria. She said that she had an ongoing relationship with him following this.
The missionary society has launched a full investigation and is providing Atwood with counseling through they found no evidence to corroborate the allegations of abuse. Archbishop Burke denies that any abuse took place.
In a Burke’s statement published in an Irish Catholic newspaper he said he “apologized to all those whom he had hurt by his actions” and said he took “full personal responsibility for what he has done wrong.”
He apologized directly to Dolores Atwood for any pain caused to her or her family and said he is deeply ashamed of his behavior, which had caused great pain, hurt and bewilderment to those around him.