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Minnesota bishop resigns at the request of Pope Francis

Pope Francis accepted Rev. Michael Hoeppner's resignation Tuesday.

The Vatican has asked for and accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Crookston, who was investigated by the church for claims that he attempted to cover up clerical sexual abuse.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Rev. Michael Hoeppner Tuesday.

In fall of 2019, Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced that police had been informed Hoeppner allegedly tried to interfere with investigations into sexual abuse by clergy within the Diocese of Crookston.

Hoeppner was investigated for these allegations under Pope Francis’s 2019 protocol aimed at holding bishops and other church officials accountable in cases of sexual abuse.

“The investigation which led to the acceptance of Bishop Hoeppner’s resignation arose from reports that he had at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy of the Diocese of Crookston,” a statement from the Diocese of Crookston read Tuesday.

At age 71, Hoeppner was four years away from the typical retirement age for bishops. He was originally installed as Bishop in Crookston in 2007.

In July 2019, the Diocese of Crookston reached a $5 million settlement with 15 victims of clerical sexual misconduct. This followed lawsuits against eight diocese parishes from April 2016 to May 2017.

Pope Francis appointed Rev. Richard E. Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, to temporarily serve in the role until a replacement is named. 

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