Archbishop listens, shares ideas on abuse crisis with young adults

| December 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
Archbishop Bernard Hebda talks with Tucker Moore, left, of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Christopher Damian of St. Thomas More in St. Paul, Kirby Hoberg of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, and Nathan Cornwell, also of Holy Family, before the start of a listening session for young adults Dec. 10 at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in St. Paul.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda talks with Tucker Moore, left, of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Christopher Damian of St. Thomas More in St. Paul, Kirby Hoberg of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, and Nathan Cornwell, also of Holy Family, before the start of a listening session for young adults Dec. 10 at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop Bernard Hebda listened, shared and reflected for more than two hours Dec. 10 with young adults concerned about healing the hurt and rebuilding the trust that has been lost in the Church sexual abuse scandal.

“I’m really grateful that you made the time to be together tonight,” the archbishop told more than 30 people gathered at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in St. Paul.

A group of young adults from a number of parishes wrote an open letter to the archbishop Sept. 10 that promised their support and encouraged steps toward transparency and accountability, increased lay involvement in parish financial and priest assignment decisions, expanded professional training for priests on sexual abuse and misconduct issues and effective ways to address the crisis.

Part of the archbishop’s response was the Dec. 10 meeting, and another gathering with adults age 18 to 39 is planned for 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 19 at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

“As I hope you have heard, I was deeply touched by the letter I received,” the archbishop said. “I found it to be really reassuring. Especially the part that offered me the accompaniment of young adults.”

The archbishop opened the Sept. 10 meeting by addressing key points of the letter, and participants then answered a series of questions in roundtable discussions that led to sharing with the larger group. The evening ended with a Q & A session.

Suggestions included the archdiocese offering a year of penance and healing, as well as a more uniform response from parishes to the need for repairing relationships wounded by the crisis.

The archbishop said steps are being taken to address those concerns. He promised to seek feedback from young adults to proposed responses to their concerns expressed in the meetings at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center and the Basilica.

David Riehm of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul attended the meeting with his wife, Adrianna, and their 7-month-old daughter, Isabella. He said it was a positive gathering.

“I really appreciated that the archbishop was so open to questions,” he said.

Jenessa Wieser, a member of the young adult group at Basilica of St. Mary, said she was grateful for the opportunity to share directly with the archbishop.

“I think the most important thing about these types of sessions is not just to speak about our concerns, but to receive feedback on what the archdiocese is thinking about,” she said.

The Church appears to be acknowledging that people are not forgetting the crisis, Wieser said.

“We haven’t forgotten this is an issue,” she said. “We’re not trying to hide it anymore.”

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