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Fargo police looking into allegations against Catholic priest that involved a child, diocese says

No charges filed, but church leadership is taking allegations very seriously, bishop says

Katanga.Wenceslaus.jpg
Wenceslaus Katanga
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FARGO — A Catholic priest in south-central North Dakota is under investigation for alleged conduct involving a child while the clergyman was stationed in Fargo.

The Rev. Wenceslaus Katanga has been placed on administrative leave as the Fargo Police Department looks into allegations that are connected to his time at Sts. Anne and Joachim Catholic Church in Fargo, according to a news release from the Diocese of Fargo. Charges have not been filed against Katanga, but the diocese is taking the allegations very seriously, Bishop John Folda said Sunday, April 7, in the statement.

“I have placed Father Katanga on administrative leave and have removed him from his priestly duties pending a complete investigation of this matter,” Folda said. “Father Katanga will not be residing at any parish during the period of this investigation.”

It’s unclear when the alleged conduct occurred. Diocese spokesman Paul Braun said he didn’t know the nature of the alleged interaction involving the child, adding administration was informed about the investigation Thursday.

Katanga most recently was a priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wishek, N.D., St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Zeeland, N.D., and St. David’s Catholic Church in Ashley, N.D., according to the release. He came to the U.S. from Tanzania, a country in southeast Africa, and was ordained in 2003, according to Forum archives.

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The diocese is cooperating with law enforcement and asks parishioners to contact Monsignor Joseph Goering at 701-356-7945 or VictimAssistance@fargodiocese.org if they have concerns regarding Katanga’s interactions with others.

“I want to assure you that the safety of our children and families is — and will remain — a priority for our Church,” Folda said. “I ask you to keep in your prayers our church and everyone who may be affected by this matter.”

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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