By: News Intern Katherine Jones
CROOKSTON- The Catholic bishop of Minnesota’s Crookston Diocese is being investigated for allegations of interfering with a clergy abuse case — the first sitting U.S. bishop to be scrutinized under new Vatican protocols for reviewing and disciplining bishops.
According to the Star Tribune, Hoeppner has been accused of coercing a former deacon candidate, Ron Vasek, to recant his allegation that he was sexually abused as a teen by the Rev. Roger Grundhaus in 1971. Vasek withdrew the allegation in 2015, signing a letter saying it didn’t happen.
Victims’ advocates say this investigation will be a test case to determine whether the new law actually holds bishops accountable for their own misconduct or for failure to address abuse by their priests.
The Crookston Diocese said it is refraining from comment pending the outcome of the investigation.
Hebda said there is a time limit for the investigation but did not provide details. When complete, it will be forwarded to the apostolic nuncio, the Vatican’s representative in Washington, and to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, which will determine any subsequent action.