Pope Accepts Resignation of Crookston Bishop

Action Comes After Investigation of Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner’s Handling of Abuse Claims

Appointments in Latin America
© Vatican Media

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Crookston, United States of America, presented by Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner and appointed Bishop Richard Edmund Pates, emeritus of Des Moines, as apostolic administrator sede vacante of the same diocese.

The action comes after an extensive investigation. The Holy Father requested Bishop Hoeppner’s resignation. The investigation that 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. The investigation was conducted pursuant to the motu proprioVos estis lux mundi, which had been promulgated by the Holy Father in mid-2019. The investigation was conducted under the supervision of Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which includes the Diocese of Crookston.

At the same time that the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Hoeppner, he has also appointed the Most Rev. Richard E. Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, to serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Crookston until a new bishop is designated. Bishop Pates’ appointment as Apostolic Administrator takes effect immediately.

The Diocese of Crookston, suffragan of the metropolitan See of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was established December 31, 1909, from the western half of the Diocese of Duluth, MN, comprising 17, 210 square miles of western Minnesota, comprising the 14 counties of Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Clearwater, Beltrami, Norman, Mahnomen, Hubbard, Clay, and Becker.

Bishop Hoeppner undertook his theological studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Winona on June 29, 1975, by Pope Paul VI at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He holds a degree in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.