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Minnesota bishop’s resignation a step to rebuilding confidence


ARNE DEDERT | dpa Picture-Alliance | AFP

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/14/21

Pope Francis asks bishop to step down following investigation.

Pope Francis asked Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, Minnesota, to resign because of his role in incorrectly handing a report of abuse. The bishop’s resignation became official on April 13.

The investigation into the bishop and his removal is the first case in the United States of applying the norms found in Vos estis lux mundi.

This 2019 document sets out the policy that Pope Francis put into effect for situations of cover up or negligence in handling claims of abuse. It allows for the investigation of bishops by a regional bishop.

Bishop Hoeppner was accused in 2015 of asking a man studying to be a permanent deacon in the diocese to recant an abuse claim. He also failed to report the claim or order an investigation into it.

Ron Vasek says that when he was a teenager, a Crookston priest molested him. Vasek told Bishop Hoeppner about the abuse in 2011, but the bishop did not order an investigation and did not contact law enforcement. 

Vasek’s son is a priest of the diocese, and when the elder Vasek reported the abuse, he says that his son’s ministry was used as coercion to get him to recant the abuse claim.

The Crookston Diocese will be run by an apostolic administrator until a replacement is named.

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