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.