After the announcement that Archbishop Bernard Hebda will serve as the new coadjutor, or an assistant bishop, for the Archdiocese of Newark, some are saying a major reason for the shared leadership is the recent controversy Newark Archbishop John Myers found himself in with regard to failing properly supervise Father Michael Fugee who violated a court order and repeatedly ministered to children. Father John Bambrick of the Diocese of Trenton told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he believes the scandal had an impact on officials in Rome.
Bambrick called the announcement “a day of great jubilation for the church in New Jersey, particularly for the Archdiocese of Newark.”
He explained that as coadjutor, Hebda will have the right to succeed Myers should he resign, die or retire. “He really is the new archbishop. There’s technicalities Archbishop Myers remains, but really it’ll be Archbishop Hebda who’ll be heading up the archdiocese,” Bambrick said.
While Bambrick said only those directly involved in the change know if the recent scandal affected the decision, he said it likely had a significant impact in Rome. “We’ve seen with Pope Francis that where bishops have recently had instances of maleficence he has removed them,” he said.
While Bambrick has been critical of Myers, he said Myers has done some great, influential work. “There’s no reason to dishonor him or disrespect him so I think this is a way of being respectful toward the archbishop and his work but also coming to the aid of the archdiocese in Newark at this time which is important,” Bambrick said.
With this move and Pope Francis’ recent interview where he said church officials should not focus too much on issues of abortion, contraception and gay marriage, Bambrick said he believes the church is going through a change.
“I think we’re experiencing the Franciscan revolution, if I can put it that way. Pope Francis is an extraordinary man. Although he’s not changing any of our doctrines or dogmas or beliefs, he is changing the way we approach them. I would say he’s the man for the new evangelization,” Bambrick said. “He’s really presenting the faith in a new and fresh way. He wants people to perceive what we say yes to, what we rejoice in and not really dwell on things that are negative. As he himself has said, Jesus came to proclaim the good news. That’s what people want to hear. They don’t want to hear the bad news.”