Bishop in Green Bay, Wis., Embroiled in Abuse Scandal, Resigns upon Reaching Retirement Age

San Francisco Chronicle [Green Bay WI]
February 25, 2003


Bishop Robert Banks, a former auxiliary bishop in Boston who became embroiled in the clergy sex abuse scandal, submitted his letter of resignation to the Vatican in accordance with church law.

On Wednesday, Banks, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay since 1990, turned 75 -- the age at which church law requires bishops to retire.

"I feel too young to be handing in my resignation as bishop of Green Bay, but 75 seems to be a reasonable age to ask for someone's retirement," Banks said. "It is my hope to stay active in ministry somehow as long as my health holds up."

Banks is among 16 bishops leading their own dioceses who turn 75 this year. By December, 32 of the 283 bishops active in the United States will be 75 or older -- the largest number of U.S. bishops eligible to resign in one year since Pope Paul VI set a retirement age in 1966, according to Catholic News Service.

Banks will continue to lead the diocese until Vatican officials accept the letter. A temporary administrator will then be named to lead the diocese until a bishop is appointed.

Banks has said he will remain in the diocese after he retires.

Before Green Bay, Banks was deputy bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston under Cardinal Bernard Law. Victims of sexual abuse have accused Law and his top officials of concealing clergy misdeeds and failing to protect children. Law stepped down from the Boston archdiocese in December.

This summer, Banks returned to Boston to give depositions in the ongoing investigation. He has admitted that mistakes were made and apologized publicly.

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