Andrew Cozzens says he learned many important lessons about how the Catholic church should respond to abuse by priests. He started his job as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis just days before a sexual abuse investigation there became public.
Speaking at a press conference in Crookston, Minn., Monday to announce his new post as bishop of the Crookston diocese, Cozzens, 53, said he will bring those learnings to his work in Crookston.
“I've seen how difficult it can be to change the culture of the church so that we deal with [the] sexual abuse crisis correctly,” he said.
Cozzens will replace Bishop Michael Hoeppner who resigned earlier this year at the request of Pope Francis after an investigation into whether he covered up sexual abuse in the Crookston diocese.
Cozzens said this is a challenging time for the church, and he said abuse victims should be the church’s priority.
"Victims are in fact the people we should be most caring for in the crisis, and that the church can actually grow towards health, and being part of the solution for this great problem which plagues all of our society," he said.
Cozzens grew up in Colorado, attended seminary in St. Paul and was ordained in 1997.
He said he looks forward to blessing fields and farm equipment, and he hopes to be “a perfect fit” for the rural Crookston diocese.
“I do have a great love for the rural people,” he said. “I think we have the privilege in the rural life of really a certain way on strengthening family life and doing things that are much more difficult to do in the urban world."
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