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Duluth diocese removes priest from public ministry

  • Associated Press
  • October 7, 2013 - 12:16 PM

DULUTH, Minn. — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth has removed a retired priest from public ministry due to what it considered a credible accusation of sexually abusing a child.

A statement issued by the diocese on Sunday said the Rev. Cornelius Kelleher was recently accused of abusing a girl sometime when he was pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Chisholm from 1975 to 1986. The decision means he is no longer allowed to function as a priest in retirement.

The statement did not give details about the alleged abuse. It said no criminal charges or lawsuits have been filed over the accusation.

Kelleher served in a dozen parishes in the diocese from 1956 until he retired on July 11, 2012. His last position was pastor of both St. Patrick's Church in Hinckley and St. Joseph's Church in Beroun.

Diocese spokesman Kyle Eller told the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/17bRjUt ) a letter from Bishop Paul Sirba was sent to every parish where Kelleher served to urge anyone else who was hurt to come forward.

"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 wrote to parishioners. "I ask you to join me in prayer for all those who have been wounded by sexual misconduct on the part of the clergy."

Kelleher does not have a listed phone number in the area and could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.

© 2014 Star Tribune