Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon granted early retirement by Pope Francis due to dementia

Posted at 6:47 AM, Dec 28, 2016

Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Diocese has been granted early retirement by Pope Francis due to his diagnosis of dementia. 

Lennon made the request for early retirement in a letter to Pope Francis in late November citing ongoing health conditions as the reason for his decision to retire, according to a news release posted on the Diocese's website.

The mandatory retirement age for bishops in the United States is 75.

Lennon is 69.

He told a room of reporters and clergymen that he decided to step down from the position due to him be diagnosed with dementia. 

"I have come to the realization that my health has declined to such an extent I should resign as diocesan bishop," Lennon said during a Wednesday press conference. "Specifically, I have recently been diagnosed with vascular dementia. Given the progressive nature of this illness, Pope Francis has accepted my request for an early retirement."

Lennon was appointed to the leadership position over nearly 700,000 Catholics in eight counties of the Diocese of Cleveland in 2006. He became the 10th Bishop of the diocese. 

Pope Francis appointed Reverend Daniel Edward Thomas as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cleveland, effective immediately.  Bishop Thomas currently serves as the bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. He will oversee the Diocese of Cleveland until a permanent replacement is named.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland held a press conference following the retirement of Lennon and temporary appointment of Thomas.

Watch it here: