A Zimbabwean Catholic archbishop who has strongly criticized President Robert Mugabe resigned Tuesday, following accusations of adultery.
A statement from the Vatican announced the resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube. The statement says Pope Benedict accepted the resignation under an article of church law covering clergy who must retire because of illness or "some other grave reason."
In July, Zimbabwean newspapers ran photos that purportedly showed the archbishop in bed with a woman. The woman's husband is suing Ncube for adultery.
In his own statement Tuesday, Ncube said was stepping down as archbishop of Bulawayo to protect the church from further attacks.
He condemned the newspaper reports as a "state-driven, vicious attack" and said he would continue speaking out against President Mugabe.
Ncube has accused Mr. Mugabe of human rights abuses and suppressing political dissent.
Zimbabwean authorities launched a crackdown on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in March, stopping the group's rallies and beating several of its leaders.
Mr. Mugabe has retained an iron grip on power in Zimbabwe in the face of strong criticism both at home and abroad.
The country is mired in a deep economic crisis marked by skyrocketing inflation and widespread shortages of bread, fuel, and other goods. Unemployment is estimated at 80 percent.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.