Priest Is Suspended; Served in 7 Parishes

By Michael Clancy
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
November 23, 2003

A priest who served in the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix from 1969 until his retirement in 1997, mostly at a church in Cottonwood, has been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

The diocese has suspended him from priestly ministry.

The allegation against the Rev. George Pirrung has been deemed credible by a review board in the Diocese of Tucson, where Pirrung served before the Diocese of Phoenix was created.

The reported incident took place at Pirrung's first of seven assignments at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Miami.

He served there almost 50 years ago, in 1954-55.

Pirrung, in a telephone interview, said he had no recollection of any incident. He acknowledged that he recently received a letter from Archbishop Michael Sheehan, temporary administrator of the Phoenix Diocese, suspending him from ministry in parishes.

Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas sent letters to the parishes where Pirrung served, informing members of the allegation and asking them to report any other allegations to law enforcement authorities and church leaders.

Besides the parish in Miami, Pirrung served at Sacred Heart in Nogales, Queen of Peace in Mesa, Immaculate Conception in Douglas, St. Catherine in Phoenix, Holy Family in Phoenix and Immaculate Conception in Cottonwood, where he served the past 20 years before retiring.

A press release from the Tucson Diocese said the recent allegation was bolstered by an archival search, which found two other allegations against Pirrung dating to 1966. The archives revealed no diocesan action at the time.

Since June 2002, the Diocese of Tucson has made public the names of 25 priests, one deacon and one woman against whom there have been allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor that have been deemed credible.

At least eight of them served in parishes that became part of the Phoenix Diocese in 1969.


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