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Catholic bishop in Minnesota resigns after inquiry over sexual misconduct cases

By Don Johnson
Pope Francis is seen during Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on April 4. The Crookston, Minn., diocese said Tuesday the pope had asked for Bishop Hoeppner's resignation. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/de21a420374628e6e6fb181cc030fd23/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Pope Francis is seen during Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on April 4. The Crookston, Minn., diocese said Tuesday the pope had asked for Bishop Hoeppner's resignation. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

April 13 (UPI) -- A Catholic bishop in Minnesota who's been under investigation by the Vatican over accusations of mishandling cases of sexual misconduct involving priests has resigned, officials said.

Bishop Michael Hoeppner was the subject of two Church investigations involving clergy sexual abuse. Tuesday, the Vatican said Pope Francis has accepted Hoeppner's resignation.

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Hoeppner, 71, was the first bishop in the United States to be investigated under Pope Francis' 2019 rules on investigating bishops who obstructed clerical sexual abuse allegations.

Hoeppner, a bishop in Crookston, Minn., is the first U.S. bishop to lose his job since those rules were adopted two years ago.

"After an extensive investigation, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked for, and has now accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Hoeppner from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Crookston," the diocese said in a statement.

"The investigation ... arose from reports that he had at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy."

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Richard Edmund Pates, bishop emeritus of Des Moines, Iowa, to lead the Crookston diocese until a permanent bishop is named.

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