Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Top N.Y. Bishop Cleared of Abuse Charge

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a top New York bishop recently cleared of abuse allegations.

Nicholas DiMarzio, who led the Brooklyn diocese for nearly two decades, officially stepped down from his role on Wednesday. DiMarzio, 77, submitted his resignation two years ago upon turning 75—the date required by Canon Law for bishops to resign, also considered retirement.

Francis also named Robert Brennan as the eighth bishop of Brooklyn. Brennan, a Bronx native, was ordained in Rockville Center, New York, and previously led the diocese in Columbus, Ohio.

DiMarzio on Wednesday called Brennan the "perfect choice" to replace him.

"On behalf of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I welcome Bishop Brennan who I have known for many years, with confidence in his ability to lead our Catholic community and build upon the pastoral achievements we have made," DiMarzio said in a statement.

DiMarzio's retirement comes just weeks after he was cleared by the Vatican of sexual abuse charges.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, announced on September 1 that the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith concluded the allegations against DiMarzio did not "have the semblance of truth."

Dolan had hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation and forward the findings to the Vatican. The outside inquiry was led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The allegations were made separately by two men, who accused the Roman Catholic bishop of sexually abusing them decades ago when he was serving as a priest in New Jersey. Both men filed civil claims against the bishop.

Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney for the two men, has said they will both continue to move forward with their civil cases. DiMarzio's retirement will not affect the litigation, Garabedian told 1010 WINS.

DiMarzio has denied the accusations, stating he never abused anyone during his more than 50-year ministry as a priest.

"My retirement has nothing to do with the investigation," DiMarzio said at a press conference alongside Brennan on Wednesday, calling the probe "second to none."

"Obviously there are civil cases still pending that are in New Jersey because it supposedly happened in those early years when I was a priest, so we still have to deal with that. That'll keep me in my retirement busy I'm sure," DiMarzio said. "But I didn't expect Mr. Garabedian to drop his cases because I retired."

Brennan said he had no comment on the ongoing litigation against DiMarzio, but he also defended the Vatican's investigation as "robust" and "very carefully done."

When asked about the hundreds of times the church has been sued under the Child Victims Act, Brennan said leaders have been "working hard over these 20 years to address problems of the past, problems that addressed the whole breadth of society."

Brennan continued, "The reality of child abuse and of sex abuse is absolutely horrendous. It's lamentable, it's a cause of great shame, it's intolerable. And it's something that we are working hard to fight, first of all in preventing it from ever happening again."

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation Of NY Bishop
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a top New York bishop recently cleared of abuse allegations. Above, Francis delivers his homily during Mass with the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe at St. Peter's Basilica on September 23, in Vatican City. Vatican Pool/Getty Images