Interim Archbishop Aims to Rebuild Trust in Church

CBS Minnesota
July 10, 2015

[with audio]

The scandal-rocked Twin Cities archdiocese has a new leader, and he’s wasting no time in signaling a dramatically different tone than his predecessor.

In an one-on-one interview Friday, interim Archbishop Bernard Hebda said there can be no tolerance of sex abuse in 2015.

He said the church would disclose what it could about the secret investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop. And, in a page ripped from the Pope, Hebda said the church needs to welcome gays as well as divorcees.

Asked what he would say to Catholics in Minnesota who have been hurt and angered by recent events in the church, he responded by highlighting the importance of hope.

“We have to have hope; there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If we can keep our eyes fixed on what is important to us, we will be able to get there,” he said. “We have to recognize that many people have been hurt.”

Watch the full interview below:

Hebda’s appointment here marks the second time in less than two years that Pope Francis has asked the 55-year-old Harvard and Columbia Law School graduate to turn around an Archdiocese mired in a sex abuse scandal. Hebda is still jointly in charge of the Newark New Jersey archdiocese

“It is a daunting task,” he said. “As a sign of the importance that the Holy Father and the Holy See have given to this Archdiocese, they have asked me to spend the bulk of my time here.”

Some Catholic leaders have called for the release of a report by Minneapolis law firm Greene Espel into alleged sexual improprieties by former Archbishop John Nienstedt with adult seminarians. Nienstedt resigned last month ten days after the Archdiocese was indicted for failing to protect children from sexual abuse.

Hebda said parts of the church’s internal investigations will be made public.

“There has to be an accounting so people will have that kind of trust,” he said.

As for the Archdiocese bankruptcy, Hebda said local parishes and even schools may be impacted.

“We are going to have to have some downsizing,” he said.

Hebda became a priest after working briefly as a corporate attorney.

He was at his most passionate when he talks about the church’s need to be more inclusive of gays and those who are divorced.

“We have such a powerful example in Pope Francis, who tell us everyone has to be welcome in the church,” Hebda said.

As it turns out, Esme Murphy was in the same college class as Hebda. Those who have known him for years universally describe him as brilliant, funny and humble. As an example of that humility, in his college reunion notes one year, he wrote of being assigned to Michigan, but made no mention that the Pope had just made him a bishop.

At the moment, there is no timetable for when a permanent replacement for Nienstedt will be named.








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