Wisconsin priest resigns over alleged misconduct with minor

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — A Catholic priest in central Wisconsin has resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor that arose decades ago.

The allegation against Bishop Mark Pierce, who has been a priest for 26 years, surfaced last week, La Crosse Bishop William Callahan said, adding that Pierce had been informed of the charge, placed on leave and released from his ministerial duties.

No details of the allegation have been released, including when and where it occurred, La Crosse Tribune reported Wednesday.

Pierce led St. Michael’s Parish and the Church of the Resurrection in Wausau. His resignation was announced Sunday in a statement read to congregants.

“After many years of neglect, I am called upon to face the harm I have caused someone by behavior inappropriate for a priest. Facing what I have done now is what demands that I step down as your pastor,” Pierce’s statement said. “I’m so sorry for the hurt I’ve caused one person in particular and the embarrassment I’ve caused you all.”

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The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said in a statement that “Pierce’s resignation achieves next to nothing.”

SNAP said Callahan should use his position, pulpit announcements and church bulletins to seek out others who may have seen, suspected or experienced abuse or neglect by Pierce.

“It’s rare to see an allegation cited with such a quick resignation,” SNAP said. “’After many years of neglect?’ Pierce is not old in years and consciences are a life. We can’t help but wonder if church officials ignored the allegations against Pierce.

In his statement announcing the allegation, Callahan said, “Please join me as I pray for the surviving victim, affected parishioners and all clergy in our diocese.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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