Reformist Aussie bishop: Quitting was my decision

An Australian bishop who ruffled the Vatican's feathers by calling for reform says his decision to retire early is his alone and is unrelated to his differences with Catholic Church leaders.

Pope Benedict XVI last week accepted Bishop Patrick Power's resignation five years before the mandatory retirement age of 75.

The auxiliary bishop of the Australian capital Canberra said Sunday he has long planned to retire at 70 and will continue to work as a priest.

Power plans to encourage Catholics "who are disillusioned with the church ... to stay with it and continue to be a voice for reform."

He says the clerical sex abuse crisis is arguably the church's most serious challenge in 500 years. He says issues such as priestly celibacy must be discussed.