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Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon: Pope Francis accepts embattled clergyman's resignation

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cleveland’s bishop, who, in 2012, was overruled by the Vatican in his bid to close parishes.

The Vatican’s announcement Wednesday about Bishop Richard Lennon’s resignation didn’t indicate when a successor would be named.

CBS Cleveland affiliate WOIO reports the Bishop Daniel Edward Thomas of Toledo will take over Lennon’s duties in the meantime.

Lennon, 69, is six years younger than the age when bishops must offer to resign. He underwent a heart procedure earlier this year.

The Vatican’s rebuff of his plans to shut 12 parishes was a rare instance when Rome reversed a U.S. bishop on such closures. Parishioners had challenged closures, holding sit-ins and even creating a breakaway congregation.

Lennon, Cleveland’s bishop since 2006, ordered the closings because of dwindling numbers of priests and parishioners and financial issues. The Vatican ruled he didn’t follow church law and procedures in the closings.

The retiring bishop also found himself at the center of another major controversy for the church when he took over as interim head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in 2002, following revelations of a massive sexual abuse scandal there.

Boston College historian Thomas O’Connor said at the time that Lennon did much to “stabilize” the situation in Boston’s Catholic community. While he had many critics of his Boston stay, many others credited him with helping heal a community infuriated by Cardinal Bernard Law’s failure to stop rampant clerical sex abuse in the area’s churches.

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