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Birmingham bishop, David Foley, resigns

From Staff Reports

Nicknamed the "happy bishop" by Pope John Paul II, Bishop David Foley announced his resignation Thursday as bishop and administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham.

Foley, 75, resigned after 19 years as a bishop and 11 as diocesan administrator in Birmingham. Within eight days, the Diocesan College of Consultors will elect his replacement. This starts the process that ends with the new pope appointing the next bishop of Birmingham.

"In March of 1986, our Lord, through Pope John Paul II, called me to be a bishop," Foley said in a written statement. "It is significant that one of his last thoughts of kindness was to accept my resignation."

In an interview with THE DAILY's Religion Editor Melanie B. Smith, Foley said he met one-on-one three times with Pope John Paul II, who died Saturday after serving 26 years. He also met 50 or more times in group settings with the pope.

Foley said he smiled a lot, and the pope noticed that and remembered.

To live in Alabama

Foley plans to live in Alabama and help with the pastoral ministry wherever needed.

"I want to spend some time in showing my gratitude to the priests, deacons, religious and the devoted lay people of our Catholic diocese," Foley said.

The Diocese of Birmingham was established Dec. 9, 1969, when it was wholly separated from what is now the Archdiocese of Mobile. The Diocese comprises the northern 39 counties of Alabama. These counties cover an area of 28,091 square miles.

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