JOSEPH Devine, Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Motherwell, handed in his resignation yesterday after turning 75.
Bishop Devine submitted his intention to step down to the Vatican but it remains unclear as to when he will officially retire.
Bishop Devine, who was in charge of the diocese, which covers most of Lanarkshire, for almost 30 years, is believed to have insisted on being allowed to quit immediately. But it could be years before he leaves his post.
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow was kept on for three years after turning 75. And with Bishop Philip Tartaglia due to leave Paisley to take the role of Glasgow Archbishop and the Diocese of Dunkeld vacant, there are several chairs to fill in Scotland.
Under Catholic law, all bishops must submit their resignation letters when they turn 75, although they can be kept on years.
However, several sources have said that Bishop Devine has informed the Vatican he will not be staying on.
One said: "Bishop Devine's been doing a farewell tour of the diocese and saying his goodbyes.
"He's got no engagements lined up in his official diary and is determined to go as soon as possible.
"Of course the Vatican has to agree to this but there are recent examples of bishops in Scotland saying they've had enough and have to go."
Bishop Tartaglia will be installed as the Archbishop of Glasgow in early September, leaving the Diocese of Paisley with a vacancy.
The Diocese of Dunkeld is also without a bishop after the Pope accepted Vincent Logan's resignation in June due to health grounds.
John Cunningham, the Bishop of Galloway, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien both turn 75 early next year.