Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Brazilian bishop Vilson Dias de Oliveira, the Vatican said Friday in a statement.

The bishop is under investigation for alleged extortion of priests in his diocese, and the covering-up of sexual abuse cases, according to Brazilian media reports.

Dias de Oliveira allegedly protected a priest accused of clerical abuse.

The bishop confessed to police in April that he had swiped $4,000 (€3,580) from parish funds for personal use, telling them he did so because he was having financial difficulties, the reports said.

The Vatican always announces when Francis has accepted the resignation of a bishop, but never explains why.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by a global clerical paedophilia scandal, with victims coming forward in countries ranging from Australia to Chile, Germany and the US.

Francis passed a landmark new measure this month to oblige those who know about sex abuse in the Church to report it to their superiors, in a move which could bring countless new cases to light.

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