By Catholic News Service
Pope Francis has named Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda to head the 12-county Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Coadjutor archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, since 2013, Archbishop Hebda has been apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese since last June. The pope named him to the administrator post after Archbishop John C. Nienstedt resigned.
|Archbishop Bernard Hebda will go from being temporary administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Paul to being the archbishop of the Twin Cities See. Pope Francis appointed him to the permanent position March 24. His installation is scheduled for May 13 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. (Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit)|
As apostolic administrator, Archbishop Hebda, a canon lawyer, has had governing authority over the archdiocese as it has faced significant challenges, including bankruptcy, which it entered in January 2015 because of mounting claims of clerical sexual abuse. The archdiocese also faces criminal charges related to a case of clerical sex abuse.
His appointment was announced in Washington March 24 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Hebda said that as much as he was surprised by the appointment, he was humbled by the confidence Pope Francis has for him to continue leading the archdiocese, calling it influential and important in the upper Midwest.
“And yet I can assure you that I’m truly thrilled to have been chosen for this service,” Archbishop Hebda said at a news conference in the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Answering questions about the state of the archdiocese in the midst of bankruptcy and pending criminal charges related to clergy sex abuse, Archbishop Hebda said the archdiocese has been invested in the “important spiritual work and outreach” and that Catholics have responded “as people of faith in a very difficult situation.”
Archbishop Hebda acknowledged the ongoing work regarding clergy sex abuse issues, which have been the focus in his interim role and will continue to be in the future.
His installation Mass will be celebrated May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
Duluth diocese Bishop Paul Sirba, who was ordained for the archdiocese and was a pastor in St. Paul and vicar general of the archdiocese as well, called the appointment “great news.” Bishop Sirba said when he was with Archbishop Hebda at meetings of the Minnesota bishops he saw “approachability and common sense” in the archbishop.
“He’s a gift for the archdiocese from Pope Francis,” Bishop Sirba said. “Through the mercy of God, Pope Francis heard the prayers of the people of the archdiocese and is sending them a shepherd, a very loving, good man. He will be someone who will walk with the people and be with them in their needs.”
CORRECTION: An early version of this story incorrectly listed Bishop Sirba’s service in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.