Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an Italian bishop who welcomed into his diocese priests accused of, and in some cases convicted of, sexual abuse, homicide and other crimes.

The Vatican didn't say why Bishop Mario Olivieri resigned two years before the regular retirement age of 75. Usually, the Vatican announces early retirements by saying they were due to a "grave" reason that made the bishop unfit for office. In Olivieri's case, the Vatican didn't even provide that information Thursday.

Italian newspapers have identified a handful of priests accused or convicted of crimes who were accepted by the tradition-minded Olivieri into his Albenga-Imperia dioceses.

In a letter on the diocesan website Friday, Olivieri said he was pained to leave because he loved the dioceses "and above all its priests."