From the New York Times:

Roger Vangheluwe, the longest-serving bishop in Belgium, resigned from his post Friday after admitting to sexually abusing “a young man in my close entourage” many years ago.

In a statement issued by the Vatican on Friday, Vangheluwe, 73, the bishop of Bruges since 1984, said that the abuse had occurred “when I was still a simple priest and for a while when I began as a bishop.”

“This has marked the victim forever,” the statement said.

On several occasions the bishop said he asked the victim and his family to forgive him but the wound had not healed, “neither in me nor the victim.” A media storm in recent weeks had merely deepened the trauma, he said.

“I am enormously sorry,” he said. Earlier this week, in a rare, direct comment on the issue, Pope Benedict XVI promised that the church would take action to deal with the crisis.

The bishop’s resignation came just one day after church authorities in Germany said that Bishop Walter Mixa, one of the country’s most prominent and outspoken conservative clerics, resigned after being accused of beating children decades ago.

On the same day, the Vatican said the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, under a code of canon law that allows a bishop to resign before the retirement age of 75 for a “grave reason” that makes him “unsuitable for the fulfillment of his office.”

In Britain, which the pope is planning to visit later this year, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued an apology to victims of sexual abuse by priests and called the abuse crisis a “profound scandal” that had brought “deep shame to the whole church.”

The bishops designated the four Fridays in May as special days of prayer.

Bishop Vangheluwe is the first Belgian bishop to step down since the abuse scandal began to emerge months ago in several European countries, particularly Germany and Ireland.

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