From The Pillar:
The first U.S. bishop to resign after a Vos estis lux mundi investigation will not conduct priestly ministry in his former diocese, the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, announced to priests Monday. The diocese will also make cuts to Bishop Michael Hoeppner’s retirement compensation, and has prohibited a priest accused of sexual abuse from ministry.
The moves are part of an effort by Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who was installed as Bishop of Crookston in December, to restore trust in the Church among both Crookston priests and local Catholics after their diocese endured lengthy public scandal during Hoeppner’s tenure as diocesan bishop.
“When [Hoeppner] left the diocese last April, he stated that he hoped to return at the invitation of the new bishop. I have spoken with him, and he has agreed not to return to do any ministry in the diocese,” Cozzens wrote in a March 7 letter to Crookston priests, which was obtained by The Pillar. A version of that letter was subsequently published online by the Crookston diocese.
The official word from Bishop Cozzens:
One of the things I have heard from you and from the priests of the diocese in my first few months as bishop of Crookston is about the need to restore trust in diocesan leadership. This has come up quite clearly in the first three Synod Prayer and Listening Events, and I expect it to come up in the others. I know from my previous experience in ministry how important it is to act on principles which can help to restore this trust — principles like listening to victim/survivors of abuse and putting their needs first, involving qualified laity to help make decisions, and being transparent about decisions and the reasons for them.
I have prayed and consulted about how to do these things, and today, in the spirit of that transparency, I write to offer clarity about questions which remained…
The diocese has been asked about the financial arrangement for Bishop Hoeppner in his retirement. Last November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published renewed “Guidelines for the Provision of Sustenance for Bishops Emeriti.” For the first time, it contains a section with special guidelines for “bishops who resigned or were removed from their ecclesiastical office due to grave acts of commission or omission as stipulated in universal law.” This section has reduced benefits recognizing the fact that the bishop emeritus will not be doing any public ministry. The Diocese of Crookston Finance Council has approved using these guidelines for Bishop Hoeppner’s retirement benefits.