Phoenix Bishop's Resignation Accepted by Pope

Charged in a Fatal Hit-and-Run Accident

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 18, 2003 ( John Paul II accepted the resignation of Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien, a day after the Arizona prelate was charged in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

Bishop O’Brien, 67, was arrested by the police Monday and charged with having fled the scene of a fatal accident. Police said his car struck a pedestrian late Saturday. The bishop was released on bail.

He told police that he thought he had hit an animal or an object, but that he did not realize it was a person. The victim was a 43-year-old man, Jim Reed.

The Vatican press office today said the bishop’s resignation is in keeping with Canon 401, Paragraph 2, of the Code of Canon Law. The text states: «A diocesan bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.»

Monsignor Richard Moyer, vicar general of the Phoenix Diocese, issued the following statement Monday:

«I sincerely regret reports I have received about Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien being involved in a fatal accident. The sympathy of all of us in the Diocese of Phoenix as well as our prayerful support goes out to the victim’s family. The diocese will cooperate fully in any police investigation. No further statement will be made while the investigation proceeds.»

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