Pope accepts resignation of abuse accused cleric in Nigeria

Vatican City, May 31 (DPA) The Vatican said Monday that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of a senior Catholic cleric who has been accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Nigeria.

Archbishop Richard Anthony Burke resigned from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Benin City, Nigeria, the Vatican said, without elaborating on the reasons for the cleric’s departure from office.

Earlier this year, a woman aged in her 40s and living in Canada made a complaint against Burke in which she claimed he had sexually assaulted her while she was still in her teens and then engaging in a 20-year affair with her.

The St Patrick’s Missionary Society in Kiltegan, Ireland of which Burke was a member, said in a statement that he had admitted breaking his vow of celibacy, the Press Association news agency reported.

‘He has apologised to all those whom he has hurt by his actions and has taken full personal responsibility for what he has done wrong,’ the society said.

Archbishop Burke denied the allegation of child sex abuse but admitted having the affair with the woman when she was over 18.