Philadelphia's Cardinal Justin Rigali officially announced his resignation at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput will be installed as the head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese in September.
Chaput, 66, was ordained a priest in 1970 and is the first Native American archbishop.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Rigali, 76, was installed as Archbishop of Philadelphia and elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2003. He has been under pressure since 2005 when a grand jury report accused Rigali and his predecessor, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, of covering up sexual abuse claims made against many Philadelphia priests.
Some critics claimed Rigali was more concerned with protecting the church than protecting the victims of sexual abuse.
In April 2010, in ordinance with canon law, Rigali submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI on his 75th birthday, but the Vatican did not act on it until now.
At press conference only hours later, Rigali announced he's retiring to Knoxville, Tenn.
Rigali also publicly apologized to anyone he may have offended during his time leading the archdiocese.
”It is a formidable task to be a bishop,” Rigali said.
District Attorney Seth Williams had this to say regarding Rigali's resignation:
"My thoughts and prayers go out to Cardinal Rigali as he makes this transition in his life. I respect the Cardinal very much and recognize the positive impact he has made in the history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia."
Johanna Berrigan of the Philadelphia chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had this to say on the resignation:
"After years of covering up abuse and protecting predator priests, we were pleased to see that Cardinal Rigali was finally resigning from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
However, we could not be more displeased that his successor will be Charles J. Chaput, longtime Archbishop of the Archdiocese in Denver.
With this move, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia retires a man who has been an enemy of victims and friend to predators and replaces him with more of the same."
At the press conference, Chaput sported Phillies and Eagles gear in support of his new town, as he made remarks.
Chaput says that he doesn’t know why the Holy Father sent him to Philadelphia and that he's sure there are smarter or more talented options.
"But I do promise that no bishop will love the people and priests of this local Church more than I will. No bishop will give more of himself than I will. And no bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past, or work harder to strengthen and encourage our priests and renew the hearts of our people," Chaput said.
He said that Rigali is one of the greatest churchmen of our time. He also asked everyone to pray for him.
Chaput joined Rigali for a public mass later in the day.
Fan, follow and download: Get the latest from NBCPhiladelphia.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and NBC Philadelphia. Sign up for our breaking news newsletter. And, get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text PHIBREAKING to 639710 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)