Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Walsh
Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of retiring Bishop Willie Walsh from the Killaloe Diocese today.
The 75-year-old cleric announced his decision to stand down last year in line with Catholic Church rules on age.
Bishop Walsh will be succeeded by 57-year-old Cork native the Rev Kieran O'Reilly, who will return to Ireland from Rome to take up the role.
The resignation was confirmed by Vatican officials.
Bishop Walsh served as the head of the Killaloe Diocese for 15 years and was widely regarded during that time.
There have been a raft of other high profile departures from the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland in the last year - several in the wake of damning inquiries into clerical child sex abuse scandals.
Bishop James Moriarty's resignation from the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin was accepted last month over the mishandling of allegations during his time in the Dublin Archdiocese.
The cleric followed former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee and former Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray out of office amid intense criticism of their handling of allegations.
Bishop Joseph Duffy last month stepped down as head of the Diocese of Clogher and Bishop Francis Lagan left his post as Auxiliary in Derry after they both reached 75.
While they retired under Vatican age rules, Bishop Duffy left under a cloud after apologising in March for failing to properly report allegations of child abuse against a priest.
The future of Dublin auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field, who offered their resignations last Christmas Eve in the wake of the Murphy report on the sex abuse scandals, has not been revealed.