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U.S. bishops' group candidates share Western Pa. roots

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 11:36 p.m.
Bishop Edward Burns
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston

Three Pittsburgh-area natives who started as priests here have been nominated for important posts at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The candidates are Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, nominated for vice president of the conference; Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau for chairman of the Committee on Child and Youth Protection; and Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Newark for chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.

“In the case of Pittsburgh, it's not unusual at all. For any other place, it's extraordinary to have three native sons standing at the cusp of major leadership positions,” said Rocco Palmo, editor of a Philadelphia-based website on Vatican news and politics. He cited the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh's tradition of combining a strong sense of Catholic identity and leadership in the church.

The election will take place during the conference Nov. 11-14 in Baltimore. Bishop David Zubik and auxiliary Bishop William Waltersheid will represent the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh in voting on the new slate of leaders.

DiNardo, 64, originally from Castle Shannon, said he worked in the chancellor's office in the Pittsburgh diocese, was co-pastor of an Italian parish in Swissvale and founding pastor of SS. John and Paul Parish in Franklin Park.

“Those are all good experiences in learning leadership, cooperation and how to preach the Gospel in a wide variety of settings,” DiNardo said.

Vice presidents usually become president three years later. DiNardo said a good president is able to listen to various opinions and get a consensus among bishops and articulate that.

After nine years in Texas, DiNardo showed no sign of a drawl, but confessed that he owns two cowboy hats as gifts. “Every now and then, I flip one on for fun,” he said.

Burns is former rector of St. Paul Seminary in East Carnegie. Hebda served on the South Side and in campus ministry. They couldn't be reached for comment.

Nicholas Cafardi, former dean of the Duquesne University School of Law, worked with Hebda in the chancellory for a summer.

“He has a very fine legal mind,” he said. “With all that talent, he's very down to earth.”

Cafardi went to the former Bishops' Latin High School with DiNardo, worked with him in the chancellory and attended his church in Franklin Park.

“Bishop Hebda and Cardinal DiNardo are exactly the kind of bishops that Pope Francis wants,” Cafardi said. “He doesn't want bishops who are career-oriented. He wants bishops who are close to their priests and close to their people.”

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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