Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the head of the Vatican's powerful bishops' office, is retiring as of April 12, the Vatican announced Monday.
The Vatican said Pope Francis accepted Ouellet's resignation, due to him having reached the age limit. Ouellet is 78, which is three years past the normal retirement age for bishops.
"It is time for me to take on new challenges, always in the service of the church and the Holy See," said a statement released by Ouellet.
Appointed to head the Dicastery for Bishops by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, Ouellet was one of the few Vatican prefects Francis retained from his predecessor's papacy, in a clear sign of trust.
The Dicastery for Bishops is a committee that advises the Pope in the selection of bishops. It also investigates allegations of abuse or neglect against them.
On Monday, the Pope named American-born Bishop Robert Francis Prévost, who has been ministering in Peru since the 1980s, to take over the Vatican's Holy See office from the retiring Canadian.
Ouellet is facing sexual misconduct allegations, which first surfaced last summer in a class-action lawsuit against the archdiocese of Quebec. On Jan. 12 one of the complainants revealed her identity and accused the Catholic Church of trying to silence her through "threats and intimidation."
Earlier this month, Ouellet denied allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by a woman in 2020.
On Jan. 20, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Quebec City confirmed that it had received a second complaint against Ouellet, the former archbishop of the city.
A Vatican investigation was conducted in the wake of the second complaint against Ouellet, but Pope Francis decided "not to retain the accusation against the cardinal."
In a written statement sent to media on Jan. 21, Ouellet confirmed his participation in the investigation and said he has "nothing to hide," and said he acted with "complete transparency" during the entire process.
The allegations against Ouellet have not been proven in court, and he is not facing any criminal charges
Ouellet will remain a cardinal despite his resignation from the head of the Vatican's bishops' office.
In his statement, Ouellet said he now looks foward to devoting himself "to a project that is particularly close to my heart, namely, to ensure the follow-up and implementation of the word carried out last year in Rome during the International Theological Symposium on the Priesthood."
Ouellet thanked Pope Francis for the opportunity to continue to serve the church.