ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The new interim archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul is in town this weekend and addressing the recent pains of the Catholic church. Archbishop Bernard Hebda addressed a nearly full house at the St. Paul Cathedral on Sunday.
He gave the homily and then personally greeted hundreds of parishioners after Mass. Archbishop Hebda,, who also jointly runs a diocese in New Jersey, was appointed by Pope Francis. John Nienstedt resigned from the job in June after prosecutors charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect children from a pedophile priest.
On Friday, Archboshop Hebda specifically said to Esme Murphy he would not tolerate sex abuse.
On Sunday during mass, he did not talk about the scandal in such a specific way but he did address the pains of the church in his homily.
Listen: Hebda’s First Homily
It’s a church, a faith built on tradition. But much of Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Paul was about starting a fresh with Archbishop Bernard Hebda.
Parishioner Victor Davis of St. Paul said it was, “Kind of getting a new beginning.”
“It’s overwhelming. So many positive wishes, lots of prayers, people from all over the Archdiocese,” Hebda said after the service.
Some see him as a new reason to be proud. Maureen Kaiser drove from Afton to greet the new archbishop.
“He is so full of love and so humble and he is truly a man of God,” she said.
Austin Barnes is a seminary student, studying to be a priest.
“I think he’s going to help us transition, he’ll be a great leader, a great pastoral voice,” Barnes said.
And Sunday, that voice alluded to the recent pain, comparing his journey to Amos from the Bible. In the homily, Archbishop Hebda said of Amos, “He’s an unlikely and reluctant prophet, he’s not from New Jersey but from a faraway place and he’s embarking on a mission that wasn’t of his choosing, yet he has that confidence that comes from knowing he was called and entrusted with a mission.”
“Excellent, he really gave a good message,” Kaiser said.
“It’s all about reconciliation, all about forgiveness,” Davis said.
And it’s all about rebuilding a reputation.
“It might at times involve some difficulties but nonetheless, we know that if we are faithful to that mission that the Lord’s going to see us through,” Archbishop Hebda said.
After John Nienstedt resigned, St. Thomas Specialist of Canon Law Charles Reid spoke with WCCO, saying Hebda has a reputation for being communicative and empathetic. It’s something so many agree is what the Archdiocese so desperately needs right now.
Archbishop Hebda is now overseeing two dioceses, flying back and forth from New Jersey. Sunday, he said he will simply be in the Twin Cities as long as he needs to be.