ONE of Ireland’s longest serving bishops has resigned on health grounds.
The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Dr William Lee (71), confirmed his resignation today (Tuesday) after saying he had no alternative given a serious illness he has been battling for the past two years.
Dr Lee, a native of Tipperary, has been bishop of Waterford diocese for 20 years and is regarded within the Church as one of its most accomplished administrators.
In a short statement, Dr Lee said his health left him with no option but to retire.
“In July 2011 I was diagnosed with serious illness and, since diagnosis, I have been under medical care,” he said.
“This has impacted greatly on my health and ministry. Recently the medical advice to me has been that, in the interests of my health, I should retire from the office of Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.”
Dr Lee said that he found the decision to retire very difficult as, despite his demanding diagnosis, he had hoped to continue in office.
He submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis I and the Vatican has now indicated that the resignation has been accepted.
“It is with reluctance and sadness that I have come to this decision to retire as I have been very happy and blessed amongst you the priests, religious and people of the diocese,” he added.
“It was a great privilege for me to be your Bishop. I have been ministering in that capacity for just over twenty years since I was ordained on 25 July 1993. It is a long time and you have been very patient with my shortcomings. My years as Bishop have been so fulfilling and, as well, very challenging.”
Dr Lee’s departure accelerates the total overhaul of the Church’s diocesan administration with eight other dioceses either securing or about to secure new bishops.
New bishops have already been installed in Cloyne, Kerry and Limerick.