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Report: US archdiocese to get 2nd archbishop

September 23, 2013

NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) — A second archbishop is to be named in the Roman Catholic Church’s archdiocese in Newark, New Jersey, where the archbishop is nearing retirement age and has been under fire for his handling of the case of a priest barred from unsupervised contact with minors, a Catholic publication reported Monday.

Pope Francis is appointing a coadjutor archbishop to assist Archbishop John Myers, the National Catholic Reporter said. A coadjutor bishop is expected to succeed a bishop who retires or dies.

The bishop of Gaylord, Michigan, Bernard Hebda, will be named to the post Tuesday, said the Reporter, citing unidentified sources.

The archdiocese, which serves nearly 1.5 million parishoners in northern New Jersey, declined to comment but said it would be making “an announcement of significance” on Tuesday.

Myers is 72, about three years from mandatory retirement. He has been archbishop since 2001.

He has been under fire for his handling of the case of the Rev. Michael Fugee, who stepped down in May.

Fugee confessed to grabbing a boy’s crotch but returned to the ministry under a 2003 agreement between prosecutors and the archdiocese that stipulated he be kept from unsupervised contact with minors. Instead, authorities say, he became a fixture at a youth group and attended overnight retreats. He later resigned and was arrested on charges of contempt of a judicial order.

In his resignation letter, Fugee said the archdiocese did not know about his youth ministry work.

“My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone,” he wrote.

Last month, Myers issued a scathing rebuke to criticism of his handling of an allegation of sex abuse in the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, which he led from 1990 to 2001.

The Pittsburgh-born Hebda, 54, has a law degree from Columbia University and worked at a law firm for a year before entering the seminary.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1989 in Pittsburgh and served in various posts in western Pennsylvania before being appointed in 1996 to the body responsible for the interpretation of the church’s laws. He was named bishop of the Gaylord Diocese in 2009.

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