CROOKSTON, Minn. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Working to reverse the tide of corruption in their scandal-wracked diocese, laity in the northern Minnesota diocese of Crookston launched a website Feb. 24 to rally the faithful to prayer.
The website, called TruthDOC (Truth Diocese of Crookston), has been designed and is financed entirely by faithful lay people of the diocese "who are committed to praying, fasting, sacrificing and witnessing for truth, purification, conversion and justice."
The initiative comes amid a series of controversies — chief among them, allegations of clerical sex abuse cover-up by Crookston Bp. Michael Hoeppner, who has the distinction of being the first prelate in the world to be investigated under the new Vatican protocol designed to hold Catholic hierarchy accountable for concealing the crimes of predator priests.
A project organizer told Church Militant that multiple purposes for the website exist, one being to give Catholics a "big picture" of what's going on in the Church rather than "bits and pieces of incomplete information."
The website, "a work in process," the organizer said, provides links to the Catholic News Agency and Church Militant articles and videos relevant to their diocese as well as information about sex abuse cases and civil lawsuits resulting from them. Ecclesiastical biographies of Crookston Bp. Michael Hoeppner and Vicar General Msgr. Michael Foltz are also presented.
The website will also act as a clearinghouse for events and activities organized by the lay Catholic faithful across the diocese to bring about transparency and restoration. These would be activities that will most likely not be included in church bulletins or on the diocesan website calendar.
TruthDOC also asks visitors "to pray, fast, sacrifice and witness" for multiple intentions:
Among the cases connected to Bp. Hoeppner is that of Crookston layman Ron Vasek, who filed suit against the diocese in 2017, accusing it of cover-up. Vasek, who was on his way to becoming a permanent deacon in 2011, had opened up to Hoeppner privately in 2015 about his victimization as a child in the 1970s. Hoeppner allegedly tried to coerce him into pledging never to file a lawsuit about the abuse instead of calling out or correcting the priest, Msgr. Roger Grundhaus, accused of the abuse. According to Vasek, Hoeppner told him that if he didn't agree to keep silent, his son — a Crookston priest — would suffer the consequences.
Another case involved Fr. Bryan Kujawa, a much-loved faithful priest, who was suspended earlier this year by Hoeppner for "boundary violations" in confession. The allegations against Kujawa amounted to hearsay as one woman went to the diocese and reported that another woman who wished to remain anonymous told her that the priest touched her leg in confession — an allegation Kujawa categorically denied. Hoeppner sent the priest to a facility designed to rehabilitate priests, St. John Vianney in Downington, Pennsylvania where he stayed for weeks.
The new website falls on the heels of a 2019 petition issued by faithful Minnesota Catholics who allege Hoeppner failed in his duty to keep minors in his diocese safe. They demanded Hoeppner step down, citing his negligence, inaction and mishandling of sexual abuse and child protection.
A "take action" tab at the upper right of the TruthDOC website takes a viewer to 2 Chronicles 7:1 where God promises to hear the faithful, pardon their sins and revive their land if "my people, upon whom My name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, seek My presence, and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from Heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land."