Bernard Hebda Ready to Lead Saint Paul-minneapolis Archdiocese
By Dave Aeikens
March 24, 2016
Bernard Hebda says he is ready to shift from a caretaker mode as the new archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
Pope Francis made Hebda’s appointment official Thursday morning, putting the man who has served as interim archbishop for nine months in charge of the archdiocese that has 825,000 members and 187 parishes.
“I have seen so many positive things going on here. I am grateful for the great work that has been done before I arrived,” Hebda said at a news conference Thursday morning at the Cathedral of St. Paul.
He becomes the leader of an archdiocese still trying to recover from priest abuse allegations, bankruptcy and a civil case settlement with Ramsey County.
Hebda arrived in Minnesota from New Jersey in June after Archbishop John Nienstedt resigned amid criticisms that he and the archdiocese mishandled priest abuse allegations.
Hebda was set to become the archbishop in Newark, New Jersey, in July of this year. He had been a bishop in Michigan and served as a priest in parishes in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Hebda said Thursday he was told of his appointment Tuesday.
He said he had no specific changes in mind other than to build on the “wonderful collaborations we have experienced in the past nine months.”
The bankruptcy and the priest abuse allegations have taken up much of his time while he has been here, Hebda said.
“We have already been very engaged in that,” Hebda added.
He said the bankruptcy will be a marathon and not a sprint as the church works its way out of the situation.
A St. Louis-group that supports survivors of priest abuse was critical of the appointment.
"The new Twin Cities archbishop is a slightly friendlier version of the old Twin Cities archbishop. This is a disappointing choice for an archdiocese that deserves better and by a pope who knows better," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Just weeks ago, Hebda stayed silent and did nothing while his corrupt predecessor quietly moved out of state and resumed ministry, causing a firestorm of justifiable outrage and controversy."
Nienstedt left a Michigan diocese in January after people were concerned about his leading an archdiocese during a priest abuse scandal.