Bishop John LeVoir announced Thursday that he is resigning as leader of the Diocese of New Ulm because of health problems.
LeVoir has been bishop of the Catholic diocese since 2008. Earlier this year, the diocese reached a $34 million settlement with victims of sexual abuse, ending more than five years of litigation.
“Although these last years have been very challenging for the diocese and the life of the church, it has been a privilege to have served the faithful of the Diocese of New Ulm,” LeVoir said in a statement.
Since early July, LeVoir has been undergoing physical and psychological assessments at Sacred Heart Mercy Health Care Center in Alma, Mich., operated by the Religious Sisters of Mercy, according to the diocese, which did not comment further on the particular medical condition.
The 74-year-old bishop will stay in Alma until September to participate in a therapy plan, the diocese said.
About 93 sex abuse claims were filed against the diocese after passage of the Minnesota Child Victims Act in 2013. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2017 in response to the claims, following the pattern of most of Minnesota’s dioceses.
LeVoir was not implicated in the claims, but he oversaw the 63-year-old diocese during its most challenging years.
“We must never forget these sins of the past,” LeVoir said when the final settlement was reached in bankruptcy court in March. “The Diocese of New Ulm and the Catholic Church must do everything possible to help protect the vulnerable so that this tragedy never happens again.”
The diocese pledged to enact 17 new protocols to protect children, including reporting sex abuse to law enforcement and new training for church leaders.
LeVoir, originally from Minneapolis, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1981. He was working as pastor at the Church of St. Michael and the Church of St. Mary in Stillwater when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of New Ulm in 2008.
A temporary replacement for LeVoir, a diocesan administrator chosen from active priests within the diocese, is expected to be named shortly. Pope Francis will appoint the next bishop.
“As bishop, it has not only been a great honor, but an enriching experience as I have come to know many people throughout this local church,” LeVoir said in his statement.
The New Ulm Diocese, created in 1957, is made up of 15 counties in south and west-central Minnesota. It serves about 50,000 Catholics in 61 parishes.