Dear Allegheny Synod,
You have most likely heard about the PA Attorney General’s
press conference today (March 1, 2016) where she outlined the findings of a
Grand Jury investigation into the molestation of children by over 50 priests of
the Altoona/Johnstown Diocese over the last 50 years.
Like you, I find the abuse of children to be one of the
worse things that can happen and it is all the more terrible when perpetrated
by people who were placed in a position of trust.
The Grand Jury report also documents a cover up of these
abuses by the two previous Bishops of the Diocese, Bishop James Hogan and
Bishop Joseph Adamec.
As you know, these revelations are going to hurt many in our
communities. That these things happened to our children and the previous
leadership did not take the requisite action to protect our most vulnerable is
So I ask you to join me in praying for our sisters and
brothers who are part of the Altoona Johnstown Diocese.
First, I ask you to pray for the victims of abuse. May we
pray that God will lead them to the help they need, and the counseling and care
to help them deal with these violations. We pray that they will have care and
justice. Especially we may pray for any who have not come forward, may they
know that they will be heard and cared for.
Secondly, I ask you to join me in praying for the
congregants and members. This will shake the faith of many. May God comfort all
and let them understand that God is working to make this right.
Thirdly, I ask you to pray for the current Bishop of the
Altoona/Johnstown diocese, Bishop Mark Bartchak. Bishop Bartchak, according to
the report, played a major part in bringing the truth into the light. Though he
is working to rectify and bring justice to these cases, he will still be the
target of many who are rightly angry at the Diocese actions under previous
leadership. Please pray that our Lord will give him the grace to faithfully
shepherd his flock.
This is a terrible situation. Let us be comforted by the
fact that God did send people who are causing the truth to come out and who
will work so that the victims have justice.
May God be with all those who have suffered because of these
abuses and molestations. May God be with all who will suffer and be hurt
by these revelations.
+Bishop Michael L. Rhyne