Nuncio rep confirms listening sessions will have role in pope’s naming of new archbishop

| November 6, 2015 | 1 Comment
Msgr. Michael Morgan

Msgr. Michael Morgan

A representative of the apostolic nunciature to the United States observed two listening sessions Nov. 2-3 to gather information to aid Pope Francis’ selection of the next archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Msgr. Michael Morgan, secretary to the apostolic nunciature, attended listening sessions at St. Peter in Forest Lake and Divine Mercy in Faribault on behalf of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio, or papal diplomat, to the United States.

“My mission is essentially to listen to what the faithful have to say, to report it back objectively and, thereby, to increase . . . the closeness of the people of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to the selection process,” Msgr. Morgan said following the Nov. 2 listening session in Forest Lake.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ apostolic administrator since the June resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt, held a series of 10 listening sessions in October and November to get feedback from local Catholics ahead of the pope’s appointment of the next archbishop. Attendees shared their opinions on the archdiocese’s strengths and challenges, as well as characteristics desired in the new archbishop.

Archbishop Hebda is also accepting feedback via mail and Archdiocesan officials have already shared information from the first four listening sessions with the nuncio and plan to submit a full report later this month.

Msgr. Morgan said the listening sessions are unprecedented in the United States. Typically, the nuncio seeks confidential input from some local leaders, including lay people, but never before on this scale. “This is the closest the Church comes to direct democracy, you might say,” he said.

He called the extraordinary process “experimental,” but said it was appropriate for an extraordinary situation, citing the archdiocese’s sexual abuse scandal, Reorganization, and the resignations of Archbishop Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché. He said the nuncio planned to include information from the listening sessions in a report to Pope Francis, but said he did not know what form that would take, or when a new archbishop would be named.

He was “favorably impressed” after witnessing a listening session, he said, because participants’ enthusiasm conveyed their care for the Church.


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