Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Another Archbishop

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Another Archbishop

Article excerpt

IT'S ABOUT tone. And it's about time. Catholics in Newark have a new archbishop, Bernard Hebda.

Pope Francis has named a coadjutor archbishop to work alongside Archbishop John Myers, who, at age 72, is still three years from retirement. Coadjutors are named for several reasons: A bishop may be straying from doctrine, a financial crisis or capital program needs a stronger hand, a bishop's health is failing or the bishop's ability to shepherd his diocese has been severely compromised.

At a press conference Tuesday announcing the arrival of Hebda, Myers made it clear his health is good and that it was he who requested a coadjutor. Myers also said he did not need to explain to the public when he asked the Vatican for assistance.

Perhaps there is something reassuring in that sentiment. Explaining is not what Myers likes to do. In an August letter to priests of the archdiocese, he declared that those critical of his handling of sex abuses cases were "simply evil, wrong, immoral, and seemingly focused on their own self-aggrandizement." Myers intends to cling to his autocratic style to the very end. He is consistent. And as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Hebda has an impressive academic resume. Born in Pittsburgh, he studied at Harvard and Columbia, and in Rome. He is both a civil and a canon lawyer. His time spent in the Diocese of Pittsburgh will serve him well in Newark, more than his last assignment as bishop of Gaylord, Mich., a small, rural diocese.

The new archbishop is relatively young at age 54. That may be a plus when it comes to learning a new, vibrant place. What his duties will be are, at least to the public, unclear. Hebda will replace Myers, but not until Myers reaches his mandatory retirement age of 75. …

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