Pope Francis asks Minnesota bishop to resign following Vatican probe
Pope Francis asked a Minnesota bishop to resign following a probe from the Vatican over his alleged interference in a sexual misconduct probe.
The pontiff asked for and accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Hoeppner from the Diocese of Crookston, the diocese said in a statement Tuesday.
Pope Francis appointed the Rev. Richard Pates, bishop emeritus of Des Moines, Iowa, to serve as Hoeppner’s temporary replacement.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minnesota launched a preliminary probe into allegations that Hoeppner “at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy of the Diocese of Crookston,” the diocese said in Tuesday’s statement.
Hebda was authorized to continue his investigation in early 2020.
Hoeppner was accused of pressuring a candidate for a church position to recant his allegation that Monsignor Roger Grundhaus sexually abused him when he was a teenager in 1971, according to The Catholic Spirit, the official publication of the archdiocese.
The candidate, Ron Vasek, alleged that when he told Hoeppner of the abuse in 2009 or 2010, Hoeppner told him not to say anything because it would hurt Grandaus. Vasek said Hoeppner pressured him to sign a letter recanting the allegation by threatening negative consequences for Vasek’s son, who is a priest in the church.
The abuse allegation was reported to law enforcement in 2011 and Vasek later sued Hoeppner and the Crookston diocese in 2017, according to the publication. The lawsuit was settled with no admission of unlawful conduct.
Updated at 2:16 p.m.