From Sandro Magister's June 15, 2012 article on bishops deposed according to Canon 401 §2 (Vatican Diary / The "who's who" of the deposed bishops):
Normally, this paragraph 2 of canon 401 concerns churchmen afflicted by physical or psychological "ill health," but there is no lack of cases of "other grave cause."
So recently, on June 7 came the early resignation of the auxiliary bishop of Canberra in Australia, Patrick Percival Power, 70, known for his progressive positions.
While on January 4 came the announcement of the resignation of the auxiliary of Los Angeles, Gabino Zavala, 61, because he is the father of two children. It is not known whether next year his name will still be listed in the Annuario Pontificio.
In the past, in fact, the names of bishops who have left their posts in order to get married have been more or less promptly expunged from the thick red book that details each year the organizational structure of the Catholic Church.
Without digging back up the cases of the Argentine Jeronimo Podestà and the American James Patrick Shannon, which concern the pontificate of Paul VI, one can recall a few relatively more recent cases, like those of the Irish bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey, who resigned at the age of 65 in 1992 and disappeared from the Annuario in 1997; of the Swiss bishop of Basel, Hansjoerg Vogel, who resigned at the age of 44 in 1995 and disappeared from the Annuario in 1997; of the Scottish bishop of Argill, Roderick Wright, who resigned at the age of 56 in 1996 and was also removed in 1997; of the Canadian bishop of Gaspé, Raymond Dumais, who resigned at the age of 51 in 2001 and disappeared from the Annuario in 2003.
From the Annuario Pontificio of this year has also disappeared the name of the bishop of Pointe-Noire in Congo, Jean-Claude Makaya Loembe, whom the pope "relieved" of his duties on March 31, 2011.
In fact, in the case in which a bishop, in spite of being urged to do so, does not accept to present his resignation, it is the pope himself who "relieves" him of his duties. Which happens rather rarely. But it happens.
Last May 19, for example, the Italian bishop of Trapani, Francesco Micciché, 69, was "relieved" over administrative problems.
While on May 2, 2011, for doctrinal reasons, the Australian bishop of Toowoomba, William M. Morris, was "relieved."
In 1995, however, the French bishop of Evreux, Jacques Gaillot, 60, also for doctrinal reasons, was not "relieved" but was transferred to the titular see of Partenia.
Morris and Gaillot were removed because they were extremely progressive. But there is no lack of examples on the other front.
In 2003, for example, the resignation of the Thai bishop of Ratchaburi, John Bosco Manat Chuabsamai, 67, was accepted after he had gotten too close, perhaps, to the world of the Lefebvrists.
While in March of 2009, the pope "exempted" Monsignor Gerhard Wagner from accepting the position of auxiliary bishop of Linz, to which he had been appointed at the end of January. In Austria, Wagner had been subjected to a formidable line of fire on the part of the progressives, because of his traditionalist positions.
Other bishops who have been removed from the Annuario Pontificio are those who have been reduced to the lay state. By authority, as in the famous case of Emmanuel Milingo in 2009, or at the request of the interested party, as happened in 2008 with the president-elect of Paraguay and former bishop of San Pedro, Fernando Lugo.
It is foreseeable that another name that will disappear from the Annuario is that of the Canadian bishop emeritus of Antigonish, Raymond Lahey, who was removed from the clerical state one month ago after a civil sentence for possession of child pornography.
Without a doubt, the majority of the "grave reasons" that lead to the early resignation of bishops concern moral questions.
The list is rather long. In addition to the cases already mentioned are those of the U.S. archbishops of Atlanta in 1990 and of Santa Fe in 1993; of the archbishop of La Serena, Chile in 1997; of two bishops of Palm Beach in the U.S. in 1998 and 2002; of the bishop of Santa Rosa in the U.S. in 1999; of the Polish bishop of Poznan in 2002; of the archbishop of Milwaukee in the U.S. in 2002; of Lexington, also in the U.S., in 2002; of the Argentine archbishop of Santa Fe in 2002; of the Filipino bishop of Novaliches in 2003; of the Argentine bishop of Santiago del Estero in 2005; of the bishop of Zamora, Mexico in 2006; of the Hungarian military ordinariate in 2007; of the central African bishops of Bangui and Bossangoa in 2009; of the Brazilian bishop of Minas in 2009; of the Dutch bishop of Ngong in Kenya in 2009; of the Irish bishop of Benin City in Nigeria in 2010.
Particular media attention went to the cases of the Belgian bishop of Bruges in 2010 and of the German bishop of Trondheim, Norway in 2009. The cardinal of Vienna, Hans Hermann Groer, accused of molestation, resigned his post after reaching the age of 75 and without ever having admitted guilt.
A different case is that of bishops who have had to resign early not because they committed gravely immoral acts, but under the accusation of having covered up the actions of their priests.
The most spectacular is the case of the cardinal of Boston, Bernard Francis Law, who resigned in December of 2002 at the age of 71. But there are also the case of the Irish bishop of Ferns in 2002, of Limerick in 2009, and of an auxiliary of Dublin in 2010, as well as of the ordinary of Maitland-Newcastle, Australia in 2011.
But the "grave reasons" that can lead to the resignation of a bishop are not limited only to questions of sexual morality. There can also be leaving the scene of an accident (the bishop of Phoenix in the United States in 2003), drunkenness (the Polish bishop of Elblag in 2003), the adoption of a young girl (the Indian bishop of Cochin in 2009), managerial incompetence (the bishop of Koudougou in Burkina Faso in 2011).
For those who are wondering: no, the list is not complete.