Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Jim Moriarty.

Read the full statement from Jim Moriarty

Bishop Moriarty announced his resignation on 23 December following criticism of him in the Murphy Report on clerical sex abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

The report said Bishop Moriarty had failed to challenge the prevailing culture in the archdiocese when he was an auxiliary bishop there.

He was auxiliary bishop of Dublin for 11 years until he was named bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in 2002.

In a statement this morning, Bishop Moriarty said: 'The decision to offer my resignation was the most difficult decision of my ministry. I did not anticipate resigning when I first read the Murphy Report, because I was not directly criticised.

'However, the Murphy Report covers far more than what individual Bishops did or did not do. Renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past.

'I was part of the governance of the Archdiocese prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented.

'Again I accept that from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture. Once more I apologise to all survivors and their families. I know that words of apology are not enough.'

All-Ireland Primate Cardinal Seán Brady has paid tribute to Bishop Moriarty for his work with the Bishops' Conference.

Cardinal Brady said: 'I would like to acknowledge the contribution that Bishop Moriarty has made to the work of the Bishops' Conference.

'Bishop Moriarty's vision and innovative approach to his work in the Bishops' Conference will be missed as will his great pastoral wisdom and experience.

'I wish him well in the future and I assure him of my prayers at this time.'

Calls for further resignations

The Parish Priest of Portlaoise has said the Pope should accept the resignations of the two Dublin Auxiliary bishops who had offered to step down in the wake of the Murphy report on clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese because ‘the bar has been set’ by the former Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Dr Jim Moriarty who retired today.

Monsignor John Byrne said the retirement of Bishop Moriarty was a very sad day for the people of his diocese but the bishop had raised the bar in talking about the culture that prevailed at the time of the horrific abuse of children by ordained people in the archdiocese of Dublin.

Monsignor Byrne said the Bishop had accepted he was part of the culture and could have and should have challenged it.

He said everybody was wondering what would happen to the offers of resignation that had been made by Bishop Walsh and Bishop Field but he said that, having tendered their resignations, they should be accepted by the Vatican.

In a separate reaction to today's announcement by the Vatican, Marie Collins, who was abused by Fr Edmondus in the Archdiocese of Dublin, said Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway and Cardinal Brady should now reconsider their positions in the light of the honourable and decent decision taken by Bishop Moriarty and their failure to challenge the culture that prevailed.