From Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda to Catholic News Agency:
I have been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston. Law enforcement has been notified of the allegations. The allegations were reported to me under the procedures set out in Pope Francis’ recent legislation addressing bishop accountability, the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.
I have appointed qualified lay persons to assist me in carrying out this investigation, to provide an independent review of its contents, and assist in its examination and analysis. All involved in this investigation have been encouraged to respond to the investigators’ requests and provide accurate information so that the truth in this matter may become clear.
As is noted in the motu proprio, those who filed the reports have no obligation to keep silent and the accused is presumed innocent.
This investigation is a preliminary one and not a full canonical process. As such, a limited time period has been established by the Holy See to gather information that may substantiate (or not) the truthfulness of the allegations. The gathered information will be forwarded promptly to the Apostolic Nuncio, who is the Pope’s representative in the United States, and to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome for a determination whether a subsequent process is warranted.
Anyone who has information to report related to this investigation is encouraged to contact Tim O’Malley, Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who is leading the investigation. His direct phone number is 651-290-1618. His email is email@example.com. Anyone who has information about alleged misconduct by another bishop is urged to report that information to former Hennepin County Attorney Thomas Johnson, an independent lay person who has volunteered to serve as the receiving authority of such allegations under the motu proprio. His direct phone number is 612-632-3207. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am looking forward to the finalization of a national third-party reporting system that is in the process of being established by the bishops of the United States.