Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1949, Hopf served as assistant pastor at two Milwaukee parishes prior to being assigned as assistant pastor at St. Mary’s Parish, Waukesha in mid-1962. In mid-1966, Archbishop Cousins transferred Hopf to St. Mary’s Parish, South Milwaukee.
In September, 1975, Hopf suffered a stroke. He was then serving as pastor for St. Peter Claver Parish, Sheboygan, a position that he had held for more than four years. As a result of the stroke, Hopf resigned his position and was placed on sick leave by Archbishop Cousins in May, 1976.
In March, 2002, at a parish event, a woman handed Archbishop Weakland a note regarding a particular incident of sexual abuse by Hopf, which reportedly occurred in the summer of 1969, and resulted in the then 12-year-old female victim’s parents reporting the incident to the police. The victim expressed anger that Hopf’s actions were overlooked and that he was transferred to another parish. Archbishop Weakland asked Bishop Sklba to follow up on the report. Dr. Barbara Reinke also followed up and there were approximately five contacts over this report. There were no records of this report from 1969, nor was a police file available. Bishop Sklba contacted a priest who would have known Hopf and he said Hopf left Holy Rosary Parish in 1969 for three months in Saxony, but that he knew nothing further about that move. Hopf returned to take on a pastorate in Woodhull. Hopf was not confronted with the 2002 report due to the total disability resulting from his stroke in 1975, which left him unable to speak.
Also in 2002, another victim reported abuse by Hopf to the archdiocese, which occurred during the period 1963-1969 when the victim was three to six-years-old.
In February, 2004, Archbishop Dolan forwarded Hopf’s case to Cardinal Ratzinger along with several cases for his consideration. The archdiocese was convinced as to the substance of the alleged abuse by him, but his frail health and advanced age were such that a canonical penal trial or administrative dismissal would be unreasonable. Instead, Archbishop Dolan recommended that he be permitted to live out the remainder of his life in prayer and penance with no public ministry or representation to the public that he was a priest.
In July, 2004, the archdiocese and Holy Rosary Parish entered into a written settlement with a victim resulting in payment to the victim of $50,000. Also that month, the archbishop wrote to a victim about having authorized release of the names of priests who are now or would have been restricted from all priestly ministries, expressing his concern over additional difficulty the publicity might cause, advising the victim of resources available to assist the victim, and apologizing for the abuse.
On October 16, 2004, Hopf died.
This narrative is based on facts contained in documents related to this Diocesan priest offender.
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