Diocese of Duluth removes retired priest amid sex abuse allegation

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The Diocese of Duluth has removed a retired priest from the public ministry following allegations of sexual abuse while serving as a pastor, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The 81-year-old priest was recently "credibly accused in the sexual abuse of a minor female during his time as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Chisholm from 1975 to 1986," the Diocese said in a statement Sunday.

Now that he's been removed from the public ministry, the accused priest will not be able to function as a priest in retirement. He had served as a priest from 1956 to 2012, serving in several parishes including churches in Duluth, Lakewood, Chisholm, Brainerd, Hinckley and Beroun.

No criminal charges have been filed yet in relation to the allegations.

The diocese is urging others who have may have suffered abuse to come forward.

Bishop Paul Sirba sent a letter to parishes the accused priest has served, and has scheduled a news conference for Monday at the diocese's Pastoral Center, the News Tribune reports.

“I deeply regret the long-lasting and devastating effects of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy and am completely committed to assisting its victims and preventing any recurrence of these crimes,” Sirba reportedly wrote in the letter to parishioners.

The allegations come less than two weeks after a Minnesota Public Radio investigation claimed the Archdiocese of Minneapolis St. Paul allowed a priest to continue practicing, despite knowing of his sexual compulsions.

The priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, was later convicted of sexually abusing two teenage boys.

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