Bishop Seamus Hegarty confirms he is to step down for ‘health reasons’

The Bishop of Derry Dr Seamus Hegarty is to step down for health reasons.

Dr Hegarty has been Bishop of Derry since 1994 having previously served in the Diocese of Raphoe for 12 years.

In a statement released to Highland Radio News Dr Seamus Hegarty said that very recently he received a diagnosis of a condition which he describes as unfortunately, irreversible and progressive.

He stated he is now receiving treatment for this condition.

The statement adds 'The conclusion of recent medical assessment indicates that I am no longer able to fulfil the role of Diocesan Bishop due to my medical condition' this in line with the Code of Canon Law.

Dr Hegarty confirms that in the past few days he submitted a letter of resignation as Bishop of Derry to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

He added that he had hoped to continue until the age of 75 as Diocesan Bishop, but his medical condition is such that he has an obligation to submit his resignation.

Dr Hegarty say he will have to scale back on his duties while the Holy Father considers my letter of resignation.

The statement concludes 'It is my intention to maintain a pastoral ministry, to the extent that I am able, into the future'