Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop John McAreavey as Bishop of Dromore.

The pontiff has also taken the unprecedented step of appointing a retired bishop, Dr Philip Boyce as caretaker of the diocese.

He is the former Bishop of Raphoe and is 78 years old, which is three years above the age at which bishops must offer their resignations to the Pope.

Bishop McAreavey announced his resignation through his solicitor on 1 March following criticisms by victims of the paedophile priest Malachy Finegan of his decision to say Mass with Finegan despite a Church ban on the disgraced cleric performing any public ministry.

The survivors also took issue with Dr McAreavey's decision to celebrate Finegan's funeral Mass.

Two days after the announcement of the resignation, the bishop submitted his request to stand down to Pope Francis, which is required under Church law.

Former president Mary McAleese, four of whose brothers attended Finegan's school, has said complaints against him stretch back as far as the early 1970s.

The cleric taught at and was president of St Colman's Grammar School in Newry, Co Down.

Mrs McAleese called on Pope Francis to travel to Newry to address the issue of the Church's response to the clerical child sexual abuse scandals here. 

It is probable that Bishop Boyce will remain in Dromore until police investigations into abuse scandals there are advanced substantially.