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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Fourth US bishop steps aside
Altar in church
The latest revelations come ahead of a key church meeting
Another Roman Catholic bishop has resigned in the United States as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct.

James F McCarthy has stepped down as bishop and pastor of a suburban parish in the New York archdiocese after admitting a number of affairs with women.

A Church spokesman said it was thought the women involved were all over the age of 18 "but we are still trying to gather all the information".

James McCarthy is the fourth US bishop to step down since a sex scandal centring on abuse of minors engulfed the Church earlier this year.

Bishop James Kendrick Williams
Bishop Williams denies abusing an altar boy
His announcement came shortly after the Vatican accepted the resignation of another bishop, James Kendrick Williams of Lexington, Kentucky, who was accused of sexually abusing a boy.

The resignations come at a sensitive time - as US church leaders prepare to meet on Thursday to debate plans to tackle the paedophilia scandal.

Several affairs

Church officials first learned of the accusations against Bishop McCarthy in a letter they received on Saturday, said spokesman for the New York archdiocese Joseph Zwilling.

Bishop McCarthy resigned after admitting to having had "a number affairs with women over the course of several years", Church officials said.

For his part, Bishop Williams has denied accusations that he molested a 12-year-old altar boy more than two decades ago.


For the integrity of the church leadership, this [week's meeting] is most important they've ever had

Historian Jay P Dolan
They surfaced after a suit was filed against the Archdiocese of Louisville - where Bishop Williams was stationed at the time - by an alleged victim.

The case is one of 87 brought against the archdiocese since mid-April by men and women who say it ignored sexual abuse by priests.

The latest resignations follow those of the archbishop of Milwaukee and the bishop of Palm Beach earlier this year.

Nationwide policy

America's bishops are meeting in Dallas on Thursday to thrash out a nationwide policy they hope will mark the beginning of the end to the crisis that has hit the Church.

They will debate a draft report, by a committee of bishops, which suggests involving police and other civilian law enforcement agencies as soon as reports of abuse are made against a priest.

But some senior American Catholics are said to be staunchly opposed to bringing in outsiders.

"For the integrity of the church leadership, this is most important meeting they've ever had", said one historian, Jay P Dolan.

The Church has been rocked by recent abuse revelations

Boston cardinal quits

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