• Mulloy was scheduled to be formally installed as the bishop on Oct. 1
  • He allegedly sexually assaulted a minor in the 1980s
  • He was instructed to refrain from public ministry

An American priest who was chosen by Pope Francis to be the bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese in Duluth, Minn., resigned Monday following an allegation that he sexually abused a minor nearly 40 years ago.

Pope Francis appointed the priest, Father Michel J. Mulloy, as the bishop of the diocese on June 19 and he was scheduled to be formally installed in a ceremony on Oct. 1.

The 67-year-old had been serving as an administrator at the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., since August 2019. The diocese, on Monday, "received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980s," a statement from the diocese said.

The diocese said it notified the police about the sexual abuse claim and that it received no other allegations involving Mulloy.

Mulloy was asked to refrain from "engaging in the ministry" while the diocese commissioned an independent investigation to determine the credibility of the allegation. The findings of the investigation were reviewed by a diocesan board, which concluded that the accusation "met the standard" for further investigation under Canon Law, the diocese said.

"Mulloy received a summary of the specific allegation against him and submitted his resignation as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Duluth to the Holy Father, which has been accepted," the statement said.

Rapid City police said they have no reports regarding the allegation against Mulloy. The details of the allegation and which law enforcement agency had received the report were still unclear, the Associated Press reported.

Mulloy was appointed after the unexpected death of Bishop Paul Sirba on Dec. 1, 2019. Following Mulloy's resignation, Msgr. James Bissonnette will continue to serve as the diocesan administrator until a new bishop is appointed.

"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," Bissonnette said in a statement.

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Representational image. AFP / Filippo MONTEFORTE