Santa Fe archbishop talks about his experience

Updated: 07/22/2014 10:04 PM | Created: 07/22/2014 9:52 PM
By: Tom Joles, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is looking for an archbishop but not because it wants to find someone new.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan just turned 75 and that means he has to retire.

In a very candid conversation, KOB Eyewitness News 4's Tom Joles talked about Sheehan, the church and that rumored half-million dollar house.

"Have you ever questioned whether there's really a God?" Joles asked.

"No. It's beyond my pay grade," Sheehan joked.

When he became the archbishop in 1993, Sheehan did have questions about something else: the scandal engulfing the archdiocese at the time.

"When I came in I immediately put in a zero tolerance regulation and I removed priests, some of them popular," Sheehan said.

The clergy scandal has obviously affected how the archbishop looks at things, even today.

"If you could change one thing about the church, what would it be?" Joles questioned.

"Holier priests. There wouldn't be any of this sexual abuse garbage. And stuff like that and meanness and whatever. Holier priests. That's the thing I would like to see happen," Sheehan answered.

Sheehan understands flawed humans, which compelled Joles to ask him if Sheehan has stumbled in the job at all or had anything to regret.

"Well, I keep going. My thing is to be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic," Sheehan said.

Sheehan is not known for ruffling feathers, but he has.

"Your decision to replace Dominican priests at Newman Center with archdiocese priests was very controversial, as you know. Why rock that boat?" Joles asked.

"I debated in my own mind. I could let the clock run out and let next bishop do what he wants or I could do something that I think is good to do," Sheehan said. "I would like to see the Newman Center have some changes and I'd like to put my own priests, my own guys in charge."

Archbishop Sheehan isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The archdiocese thinks it could take nine to 14 months to find his replacement. Sheehan says even after he retires, he'll continue to work as a fill-in priest and in other ways for the church.

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