ATLANTA -- Roman Catholic Archbishop Eugene A. Marino of Atlanta may have to be hospitalized as a result of physical and psychological stress and may "possibly" step down permanently, according to an archdiocesan spokesman.

Marino, 56, formerly an auxiliary bishop in Washington, temporarily turned over the administration of the Atlanta archdiocese to an aide after suffering chest pains in early May, two years after he was installed as the spiritual leader of North Georgia's 170,000 Catholics.

The archbishop was in New York when the chest pains began and remains at a retreat center there, under the care of two physicians and a psychologist, the Rev. Peter Dora said. The archbishop's blood pressure, for which he has been given medication in the past, remains very high, but his chest pains have stopped, according to Dora.

"This much stress is dangerous and hospitalization may be necessary," Dora quoted the unidentified psychologist as saying. The spokesman said the archbishop's doctors think they are "making progress in identifying the underlying causes" of his physical condition. The physical and psychological stress may be related to "cardiovascular functions," according to the doctors.

Dora said it is in the "realm of possibility" that Marino may resign.

The announcement that the archbishop suffers from stress was made June 2 but as of June 18 there has been no change in the archbishop's condition, Dora said.

Because of the psychological component involved, the physical symptoms may turn out to be "a manifestation of deeper problems," Dora said. The archbishop's psychological symptoms are not known and remain "between him and his doctor," he added.

Marino keeps in daily contact with the the Rev. Edward Dillon, the vicar general who is handling the diocese's administrative tasks, said the spokesman. There are no plans at this point to appoint an administrator to run the diocese permanently, he said.

The former auxiliary bishop to Cardinal James Hickey of Washington was the primary mediator between the cardinal and the Rev. George Augustus Stallings, a priest who started his own African American Catholic church in defiance of church authorities a year ago and has since been excommunicated.

Marino has also had to deal with a local involving a visiting British priest accused of molesting altar boys in an Atlanta-area parish. The Rev. Anton Mowat fled the country, but was arrested and returned here, where he pleaded guilty.

Marino was treated for alcoholism 12 years ago and regularly attends meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, said Dora.