Vatican Veteran Tapped to Lead Archdiocese in Mn

By Allen Costantini
June 15, 2015

Pope Francis turned to a Vatican veteran to take the temporary reins of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Pope formally accepted the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt on Monday.

The Most Reverend Bernard Hebda, 55, is currently the Coadjutor Archbishop of the Newark, New Jersey Archdiocese. Hebda will become Archbishop when the current Archbishop of that diocese retires in 2016 or dies.

Now, Hebda is also the Apostolic Administrator of Minnesota's largest diocese until an Archbishop can be appointed. Hebda promised in a statement to "be as available as possible" locally while still performing his duties back East.

"He is very well connected," said Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter Editor. "He spent 13 years working at the Vatican. His expertise is Canon law. So, what he is going to bring is kind of a pastoral approach, but very much steeped into the rules and regulations that run the Church."

Hebda was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was ordained a priest in 1989 and served at the Vatican in Rome from 1996-2009. He was appointed as Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan from 2009-2013.

Coday said his experts at the independent newspaper called Hebda "brilliant, generous, gentle and pious," when he was appointed to the New Jersey position in 2013.

"He was appointed there in 2013 because Archbishop John Meyer of Newark was experiencing similar troubles to what Archbishop Nienstedt has been going through, allegations of mishandling of sex abuse cases, both at Newark and at Meyer's old diocese in Peoria."

"At the time of the appointment, both Hebda and Meyers denied that Hebda was appointed there because of those problems, but, there is definitely some kind of connection."

For now, Hebda is the leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He will be assisted by Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is in bankruptcy and facing both civil and criminal charges in the priest/sex scandal.

"You want an administrator who is kind of steeped in that how civil and church law kind of intersect because those are the questions that are going to be asked of him," said Coday. "In that sense, is he a clean-up guy? Perhaps."








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