Dear Members of our Roman Catholic Family of Faith,
Each year, we faithfully celebrate at Christmas the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Christmas comes every year, even during moments of great difficulty. We only need to remember those who celebrate Christmas with a loved one at war, during times of illness, in times of unemployment, and when grieving the loss of a loved one. We also think of those who celebrate Christmas without a home or country, those who are alone, those who are victims of natural disasters, and those on the margins of society.
As Catholics, Christmas comes to us this year at a period of great sadness in our history: sadness for all victim-survivors and their families who have been so damaged by the abusive actions of some members of the clergy; sadness for those who have lost trust in some bishops and priests who should have protected their flock; and sadness that the faithful feel in simply bearing the name “Catholic.”
Just as Christmas may occur during times of distress, so too does it offer us each year a message of joy, healing, and hope. This hope is rooted not in the human events of the day, but in the eternal message of salvation.
To be joyful even in the midst of so many troubling events does not diminish our solidarity with those who suffer, but rather speaks to the bright Christmas promise of the Angels, “Do not be afraid…for a Savior has been born for us who is Christ and Lord.” (see Luke 2:10-11)
And so my dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to joy, healing, and hope this Christmas Season, not because we have no difficulties to face in the days ahead, but because God has come down to Earth to encounter each one of us and to embrace us as His beloved disciples.
Assuring you of a remembrance of you and your family during my Christmas Masses and with best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a Holy New Year, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Alfred A. Schlert
Bishop of Allentown