Wisconsin priest resigns over alleged misconduct with minor

Associated Press [New York NY]

October 26, 2022

A Catholic priest in central Wisconsin has resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor that happened several decades ago.

The allegation against Monsignor Mark Pierce, who has been a priest for 26 years, surfaced last week, La Crosse Bishop William Callahan said, adding that Pierce was told of the accusation, placed on a leave of absence and relieved from ministerial duties.

No details about the allegation were released, including when and where it occurred, the La Crosse Tribune reported Wednesday.

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

“After many years of neglect, I’m being called to face the wrong I have caused someone by behavior inappropriate for a priest. Facing up to what I have done now is what requires that I resign as your pastor,” Pierce’s statement said. “I am truly sorry for the hurt that I have caused one person in particular and the embarrassment I’ve brought on you all.”

The Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement that “Pierce’s resignation achieves virtually nothing.”

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

“It is rare to see one allegation cited with such a quick resignation,” SNAP said. “‘After many years of neglect?’ Pierce is not old in years and consciences are a lifetime. 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 victim survivor, the affected parishioners and all the clergy across our diocese.”