From Archbishop Bernard Hebda
Today, Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick was reinstated to public ministry in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
In August of last year, the Archdiocese received an allegation that Father Fitzpatrick, pastor of Saint Rose of Lima and Corpus Christi Churches in Roseville, sexually abused a minor in the 1980s. Rev. Fitzpatrick denied the allegation and immediately took a voluntary leave of absence pending an investigation.
In accordance with our protocols, the Archdiocese notified law enforcement and cooperated in their criminal investigation. Law enforcement completed their investigation and closed their case based on a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations. With authorization from law enforcement, the Archdiocese commenced its own investigation of the allegation. That investigation was recently completed and presented to the Archdiocesan Ministerial Review Board (MRB).
The MRB reviewed this entire matter, including investigative materials and other information relating to Rev. Fitzpatrick’s 42 years of service to this Archdiocese. The MRB, which is made up mostly of lay persons, determined that there was not a reasonable basis to find that the alleged abuse occurred. The MRB, therefore, concluded that the allegation is not substantiated and recommended that Rev. Fitzpatrick should be returned to ministry. Judge Tim O’Malley, Director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, also reviewed this matter and was present for all MRB deliberations. He is in agreement with the MRB’s findings and recommendation.
I concur with the conclusions of the MRB and Director O’Malley, and have ordered the reinstatement of Rev. Fitzpatrick to public ministry. We are currently working with Father Fitzpatrick and staff to determine the best way to reintegrate him into ministry.
I ask for your prayers and support for all victims of sexual abuse and their families, as well as for Father Fitzpatrick and all of our priests.