Crookston Bishop Defends Conduct in Sexual Abuse Case

Crookston Bishop Defends Conduct in Sexual Abuse Case Click to Enlarge

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - A Minnesota bishop says he was trying to protect the confidentiality of a man who said he was sexually abused by a popular priest when he certified to other church officials that the priest was fit to work with children.

A Twin Cities attorney Jeff Anderson appealed directly to the Pope yesterday to immediately remove Bishop Michael Hoepner of the Crookston diocese. Hoppner is at the center of criticism for interfering in clergy abuse cases and allowing accused priests to continue their ministries. Anderson also urged the pope to remove Bishop Richard Malone of the Buffalo Diocese in New York for how he handled a sex abuse crisis there. The two are among the first sitting of U.S. bishops to be scrutinized under new Vatican protocols.

Bishop Hoeppner acknowledged in a videotaped deposition released Tuesday that he told the Archdiocese of St. Paul in 2012 that the priest was "of good moral character and reputation," and that he was unaware of anything that would "render him unsuitable" to work with children.

Pressed by Anderson on why he made that assertion, knowing the allegations, the bishop said he was respecting the accuser's confidentiality.

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