Priest named to be bishop by pope resigns after abuse probe

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A priest recently tapped by Pope Francis to be made a bishop for a Minnesota diocese has resigned after an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor surfaced before he could take up his post.

The Vatican announced without giving details on Monday that Francis had accepted the resignation of the Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy, who was named by the pope in June to head the Duluth diocese. Mulloy was supposed to be elevated to bishop’s rank in an Oct. 1 ceremony in Duluth.

At the time of his appointment, Mulloy was serving as diocesan administrator in the Rapid City, South Dakota, diocese, which said it received the allegation last month.

It is highly unusual for a priest to be selected to be made bishop by the pope, then resign before that can happen. But the development serves to underline the pontiff’s oft-stated resolve to crack down on predator priests as well as insist that any allegation of sex abuse be promptly investigated.

The Rapid City diocese said that Bishop Peter Muhich informed law enforcement of the development and that Mulloy was “directed to refrain from engaging in ministry.”

“The diocese then commissioned an independent investigation to determine whether the allegation warranted further investigation under Cannon (church) Law,” the Rapid City diocese statement said. It added that that stage led to the finding that ”the accusation met the standard for further investigation and conclusion and the Holy See was informed” by Muhich.

The Rapid City diocese said Mulloy received a summary of the specific allegation and submitted his resignation as bishop-elect to the pope.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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