Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of the Philadelphia Archbishop Justin Rigali Tuesday as the archdiocese faces criticism over its handling of alleged priest sex abuse cases.
Rigali's tenancy as archbishop has been mired in a number of pedophile scandals dating back to 2003. The 76-year-old archbishop applied for resignation in April of last year as required by Cannon law but Pope Benedict did not immediately act on his request.
The pope has appointed Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput to succeed Rigali.
Earlier this year, a grand jury report claimed Rigali had concealed reliable sex-abuse complaints made against dozens of Philadelphia priests and allowed the suspected priests to continue active duty.
The report led to four Philadelphia priests and a parochial school teacher being criminally charged with raping and assaulting boys in their care.
The grand jury report also resulted in another 29 priests being placed on administrative leave.
In the months following the release of the grand jury report, Rigali was also named in several sexual abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The archdiocese responded to the investigations by issuing a statement saying it had "made significant progress in protecting children and in inquiries into the alleged abuse and allegations of violence."
Chaput, who was ordained priest in 1970 and became a bishop at the age of 43, will lead the 1.5 million Catholics under the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He has served as Archbishop of Denver since 1997.