It appears that its ‘business as usual’ for Bishop Paul Sirba in the Diocese of Duluth these days and we are deeply concerned about the all-too-familiar circumstances playing out there. As has been widely reported, Father Brian Lederer of Blessed Sacrament in Hibbing was arrested on May 5th and charged with the sexual assault of multiple young girls at his parish school. Father Lederer is a pastor at Blessed Sacrament who was also a teacher there at one point. Then, in the face of an ongoing criminal investigation, Bishop Paul Sirba made the decision to place the Diocese’s Chancellor, Judicial Vicar, and pastor of St. Benedict’s Cathedral, Father Eric Hastings on a leave of absence with no explanation. The Chancellor is a key figure in any diocese as the third in command, and a leave of absence is an unusual status for any priest to be placed on because it means he will not be functioning as a priest. For a bishop to place such an important individual on a leave of absence under the circumstances raises red flags.
In the interest of transparency and child safety I believe the public has a right to know more. Bishop Sirba, where is Father Hastings going and why?