Diocese offering parish programs to encourage healing

     As part of its response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the Diocese of Allentown will invite Catholics from throughout the Diocese to attend discussions, moderated by fellow parishioners, designed to encourage reflection and healing.


        “We want people to be able to express their thoughts, their feelings, and their concerns about clergy sexual abuse in the prayerful comfort of their own parish environment,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert. The program will be available in both English and Spanish.


     “My hope is that those who choose to attend these small-group discussions will find them helpful, and will use them as part of the process of healing,” Bishop Schlert said. “This is an opportunity for all of us to prayerfully reflect on scripture, on the clergy sexual abuse crisis, and on our path forward as a Roman Catholic Family of Faith.”


     The program, called Healing Our Church, is being designed by RENEW International, a nonprofit organization that provides Catholic ministry services throughout the world. Bishop Schlert encouraged RENEW to develop the program for use in the Diocese of Allentown and elsewhere.


     The weekly discussions will take place during the six weeks of Lent, a traditional time of deep reflection before Easter. This year, Lent begins on March 6, which is Ash Wednesday.


     Parish pastors will select group leaders who will attend orientation and training sessions early in 2019. More information on the programs, including how to register, will be distributed in parishes before the sessions begin.


     Anyone who knows of incidents of abuse, in the Church or outside it, should report it to the State ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313, the State Attorney General’s hotline at 1-888-538-8541, or to local law enforcement. The Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to provide assistance to anyone who, as a minor, was abused by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer of the Diocese, or of its parishes. Her direct line is 1-800-791-9209.