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ST. PAUL, Minn. – The interim leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been officially appointed to the position, the Vatican announced Thursday.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda, 56, has been overseeing the archdiocese since Archbishop John Nienstedt resigned last year, after prosecutors filed criminal charges against the archdiocese for failing to protect children from a priest later convicted of molesting two boys. Nienstedt denied wrongdoing in that case and was not charged.
Hebda's installation Mass is scheduled for May 13.
The archdiocese has been under fire since 2013, when a former church official went public with concerns about its handling of abuse cases. That same year, a state law opened a three-year window for victims of past sex abuse to file lawsuits. The archdiocese has declared bankruptcy and more than 400 victims have come forward.
"I know from my nine months in the Archdiocese that there is much work yet to be done to overcome the significant challenges we continue to face, but I am firm in my conviction that the Lord is truly present here, even in our struggles," Hebda said in a letter to congregants. "The exceptional staff and leadership team at the Archdiocese, along with our strong priests, committed religious (order members), and dynamic lay leaders are all reasons for great hope."
His appointment means he will not become head of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, where he had been serving as coadjutor archbishop and was scheduled to replace Archbishop John J. Myers when he is expected to retire in July.