The Rev. Michel J. Mulloy. Photo via the Diocese of Duluth

A Minnesota Catholic diocese was set to install a new bishop. Then he was accused of abuse.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Rev. Michel Mulloy, who was set to become the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, this fall.

The diocese had planned to install Mulloy as bishop in October.

That plan was put on hold after a review board in South Dakota received an allegation that Mulloy had abused a minor there in the 1980s.

The Vatican confirmed that the pope accepted the resignation of the bishop-elect in a statement sent to journalists on Monday (Sept. 7).

“We grieve with all who have suffered sexual abuse and their loved ones. I ask you to pray for the person who has come forward with this accusation, for Father Mulloy, for the faithful of our diocese, and for all affected,” said the Rev. James Bissonette, the diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Duluth, in an online statement on Monday.

“We place our hope and trust in God’s providence as we await, again, the appointment of our next bishop,” he said. 


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The diocese has been without a bishop since last December after the death of Bishop Paul Sirba. Until Pope Francis selects a new bishop, Bissonette will continue administering the diocese.

The Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, announced that it had received an allegation in August that Mulloy had sexually abused a minor while he was a priest at that diocese 40 years ago.

Last year, Pope Francis issued new guidelines that enforced mandatory reporting of sexual abuse to police authorities. Bishop Peter Muhich of Rapid City informed local law enforcement of the accusation and asked that Mulloy abstain from ministering, according to the statement by the diocese.

In accordance with Francis’ new rules, the Diocese of Rapid City led an investigation into the accusation. A review board made up mostly of laypeople found “that the accusation met the standard of Canon Law for further investigation.”

The diocese then informed the Vatican of its findings.

No allegations of sexual abuse against Mulloy were reported to the local police, according to The Associated Press.

Pope Francis selected Mulloy to lead the Diocese of Duluth in June and the installation Mass had been scheduled for Oct. 1.


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