After a couple of turbulent years for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the man temporarily leading the Roman Catholic faithful of the Twin Cities area says he'll work to keep things calm and rebuild trust.
In a round of interviews with Minnesota media on Friday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said transparency will be important during that process and he wants parishoners to maintain their hope through it all.
Hebda told WCCO "We have to recognize that many people have been hurt," but added: "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.”
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The Vatican named Hebda apostolic administrator for the Twin Cities archdiocese in June, when the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt was announced. Hebda will serve in the Twin Cities until Pope Francis names a successor to Nienstedt.
He arrives as the archdiocese faces legal, financial, and ethical turmoil – much of it stemming from allegations of sexual abuse by priests:
- The archdiocese faces criminal charges of endangering children by failing to protect them from a pedophile priest in St. Paul.
- The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in January to deal with an operating deficit and upcoming costs from a legal settlement with survivors of clergy sex abuse dating back decades.
- There are questions about an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Nienstedt and his handling of that investigation.
Hebda tells KSTP his role is to calm things, prepare the archdiocese for its new archbishop, and promote healing, saying: "I've been praying very intensely these days for that healing and to commit ourselves to the mission of the church and we're going to restore the trust.”
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Hebda indicated the archdiocese will say something publicly about the investigation of Nienstedt, telling The Associated Press: “I think it would be difficult for us to move forward without there being some kind of accounting.”
He told MPR News he doesn't know yet how the archdiocese will plead to the criminal charges.
Hebda is dividing his time between Minnesota and Newark, New Jersey, where he is preparing to become archbishop next year. He tells the AP the last few weeks have been "a bit of a whirlwind."
Hebda will celebrate a Mass in the Twin Cities for the first time on Sunday at the St. Paul Cathedral.