Argentine Bishop Caught Hugging Woman in Bikini on Beach Resigns

An Argentinean Roman Catholic bishop who was photographed last week embracing a woman in a bikini on a Mexican beach has had his resignation accepted by the Vatican.

Bishop Fernando Bargallo of the Merlo-Moreno diocese in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was placed in the center of a scandal when an Argentine television station showed pictures of the bishop hugging the unidentified woman at a holiday beach resort, the BBC reported. One such image shows the bishop waist-deep in the water as he is hugging the woman in his swimming trunks.

Catholic Bishops are not supposed to get married, but instead swear a life of celibacy and give themselves over to God. The issue has been up for debate by the Vatican in recent times, although Pope Benedict XVI has remained firm in his position to uphold Roman Catholic Church teachings.

While information on the woman was not readily available, the bishop has confessed that he was having "amorous ties" with her. He had previously tried to excuse himself by saying that she was just a childhood friend, one that he had known all his life.

In a public statement, he also said that the photographs were misleading, and could lead people to make the wrong conclusions about the situation. He went as far as to ask his congregation to "forgive him for the ambiguity of the pictures," and insisted again that the photos should only be viewed in the context of a long-standing friendship.

Later the same week, however, the bishop admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with the woman and turned in his resignation, and it has since been accepted by the Vatican.

Bishop Bargallo had served in his position since 1997. His replacement at the diocese in Buenos Aries is reportedly Monsignor Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto.