The Diocese of Allentown issued the following statement on Sept. 12, in response to a lawsuit filed in Lehigh County Court:
Bishop Schlert has always viewed victims as sincere, dignified, and extremely courageous for coming forward. He has always treated them with respect, and always will. For those who suggest otherwise, nothing could be further from the truth. With regard to the allegations in this lawsuit, the Diocese did not disclose the information publicly. We provided it to the Grand Jury as a result of a subpoena. In fact, it was the Grand Jury Report that made this information public. The Diocese did not solicit this information. The Diocese never investigated the victim or attempted to discredit her. The Diocese never acted on the unsolicited information. In fact, after the Diocese met with the victim in 2002, the Diocese removed the priest from ministry. Law enforcement already was aware of the allegation. As a Diocese, we treat victims with compassion, respect and dignity. We would never direct anyone to do otherwise.
The release of the Grand Jury Report and the recent allegations have been painful. Much has been said and written already. I suspect that many of you, like me, are emotionally exhausted. Shock, anger, frustration, profound sadness and tears. It’s been rough.
Faithful from across the five-county Diocese of Allentown are welcme to share faith, fellowship and fun at this year’s “Diocesan Family Festival,” Sunday, Sept. 30 in the Christmas City. Additionally, the event, which takes place at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, will shine a spotlight on Catholic education.
The Diocese of Allentown is open to discussions about the creation of a fund to assist victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse as one aspect of their healing.
“As a parish, we were happy to welcome them. Their presence and the purpose of their trip has been an inspiration to our parishioners,” said Father Don Cieniewicz.
Bishop Alfred Schlert this weekend visited three parishes of the Diocese of Allentown that were affected by clergy abuse, saying Mass and offering a Homily in which he asked victims for forgiveness, acknowledged that past actions of Church leaders have eroded trust, and pledged to “shepherd our local Church through these hurt-filled times.” His Homily, given at Saint Patrick, Pottsville, on Saturday evening, and at Holy Guardian Angels and St. Catharine of Siena, both in Reading, on Sunday, can be found here.
“From the moment we’re baptized, we are called,” Father Arechabala said to young adults gathered for the Theology on Tap session “Everyday Holiness: Learning to Hear God Speak” Aug. 13 at Hops at the Paddock, Allentown.
There have been suggestions that you discredited victims of abuse. Is that true? Absolutely not. (Click on the headline above to read the rest of the Bishop's answer.)
Every Bishop inherits the history of his Diocese. It falls to him to shoulder any failings from the past, to apologize, to ask forgiveness, to promote healing, and to do what he can to prevent recurrence. The Grand Jury Report is a sad and humbling account of the Priesthood used for evil purposes. The victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse have suffered terribly, and it is my sincere hope that the Report is an important step in their healing and recovery.