A priest hand-selected by Pope Francis earlier this year to be appointed as bishop in a Minnesota diocese has resigned after an allegation of sexual abuse dating back 40 years surfaced. The bishop-elect, Father Michel Mulloy, was chosen to lead the Duluth Diocese in northeast Minnesota after serving the Catholic Church for over four decades.
It was Father James B. Bissonette, an administrator for the Diocese of Duluth, who announced Father Mulloy’s resignation saying, “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.”
Father Mulloy reportedly resigned after being given the opportunity to review the complaint against him by his accuser. Because of Canon Law, the diocese is forced to investigate any allegation of sexual abuse by clergymen. This investigation is what prompted Father Mulloy to step down after serving four decades in the church.
In a statement in early September 2020, The Diocese of Sioux Falls said it had no record of complaints or allegations regarding Father Mulloy’s conduct during his assigned ministry with the diocese. The complaint that surfaced this year was not made until Father Mulloy’s appointment as bishop was announced.
The 67-year-old priest was ordained in 1979, and has served in South Dakota and Minnesota at a handful of churches including:
- The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Rapid City, SD)
- Christ the King Parish (Sioux Falls, SD)
- St. Anthony (Red Owl, SD)
- Our Lady of Victory (Plainview, MN)
New Rules in the Catholic Church
Father Mulloy’s resignation follows a July report that The Vatican would urge bishops around the world to report clergy abuse to authorities, even if it was not required by the local laws. The Vatican also told bishops that they had an obligation to report claims even if they thought those claims were not completely creditable.
Critics of the new advisement to bishops say this isn’t binding because it isn’t written into Canon Law, making what the Pope and other high officials in the church are asking for a suggestion rather than a decree.
These instructions given by The Vatican were compiled into a new handbook to advise new bishops, especially those who have little or no experience in handling sexual abuse cases. The handbook says nothing about reporting or turning yourself in if you have been accused of such crimes.
Polish Archbishop Retires After Reports of Cover-Up
In another part of the world, soon after the resignation of Father Mulloy, Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz has resigned from his post in Gdansk after being accused of protecting priests who allegedly abused children. The Polish Archbishop has served for decades and some say his resignation was premature. Critics believe the Pope is attempting to make a statement with this resignation- that this type of cover-up will not be tolerated under his leadership. There have been numerous instances in which the Pope subtly criticized the Catholic Church for putting their image above victims of sexual abuse by clergy members.
Critics of the Pope believe he has been too soft on bishops who know about, but don’t report, abuse in the church, though he has moved away from a doctrine of silence more than most Popes in the past.
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Too often, clergy and other powerful religious figures behave as though they can abuse those who look up to them without repercussions. People in institutions of power, including churches, may receive protection from those institutions.
No one is above the law.
One of the biggest barriers to justice in childhood sexual abuse cases is the limited amount of time victims can come forward to report a crime. This is referred to as the statute of limitation, and this window of time you have to file a claim is determined by the state where the abuse occurred.
Certain states have extended their statute of limitations window, including New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Washington D.C., and North Carolina. To best understand your rights in your state, you should speak to a licensed attorney who has experience in handling abuse cases.
A sex abuse claim can be emotionally draining, and coming forward may seem impossible. Our team of experienced attorneys want to help in any way we can. Call us for a free legal consultation today at (800) 614-2067. All consultations are completely confidential. We don’t get paid unless we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf.