One OF Donegal’s most senior clerical figures of recent times, Bishop Séamus Hegarty, is stepping down as Bishop of Derry on health grounds.
Dr. Hegarty (71) said in a statement released yesterday that he has very recently received a diagnosis of a condition which he described as “irreversible and progressive”.
He said he had hoped to continue to the retirement age of 75 but that the diagnosis means he is unable to fulfil the role of bishop due to a medical condition.
The announcement of the resignation comes ahead of the publication of an audit into the Disocese of Raphoe where Dr. Hegarty preceded Bishop Philip Boyce.
“Mindful of the requirement of the Code of Canon Law, canon 401 §2, in which a bishop is “earnestly requested to offer his resignation” when, because of illness, he becomes unsuited for the fulfilment of his office, I have in the past few days submitted my letter of resignation as Bishop of Derry to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,” he said.
“Due to my condition, I will have to scale back on my duties while the Holy Father considers my letter of resignation.