Australia's "Eco-bishop" Resigns

CANBERRA, Australia, JUNE 9, 2009 ( Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Christopher Henry Toohey, 57, of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes. The bishop had been on an extended leave of absence since Easter.

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The apostolic nunciature in Australia reported today that the resignation was accepted in accordance with Canon 401.2, which concerns bishops who have «become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause.»

Bishop Toohey, most known for his environmental work and as the founder of Earthcare Australia, has been the bishop of the diocese in the Australian outback since 2001.

The, expansive, drought-ridden diocese, which is equal in size to France, is constituted of 20 parishes served by 16 priests. It is reported that the diocese is experiencing a severe shortage of financial and human resources.

Auxiliary Bishop Terence Brady of Sydney was appointed apostolic administrator of Wilcannia-Forbes until the successor of Bishop Toohey is appointed.

Father Brian Lucas, the general secretary of the Australian episcopal conference, told the Australian that while he could not comment on why Bishop Toohey stepped down, «it should be made clear he will continue to be a priest.»

Chris Toohey was born in Sydney. He was ordained in 1982.

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