The Catholic Community  of St. John Neumann
A Christian Church of the Catholic Tradition
Califon, NJ

Pastor's weekly Writing


Dear Friends,
Many of you must have already read the beautiful letter of our Bishop Checchio about the clergy sexual abuse crisis which is snowballing into a bigger crisis casting aspersions into the credibility of those in the highest positions of church leadership including Popes, past and present. There is more sadness, frustration, shame and outright anger towards the church leaders for these repugnant sins and for the cover-up. Thank you for the feelings and reactions some of you shared with me:
-“I was happy to read your thoughts in the bulletin. Yes much further contemplation and discussion will be needed to wade through the complexity of what we have here. I will hold off on any judgments myself as I too am an engaged passenger in this process alongside you trying to understand...”
-"The problem must be openly recognized, and then openly dealt with."
-“This is all so disillusioning. I love my church and you as our pastor. 
-“I spend so much time fund raising only to have much of it go to the diocese that is part of the problem. What to do with all this?”
Yes I do hear these and many more sincere reactions which I know are coming out of a genuine concern for the true Church of Jesus Christ. When someone told me, “I don’t feel like being part of this sinful Church anymore,” I replied quoting last Sunday’s gospel: “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:65-69).
Peter’s reply reminds us why we love and stay with our Church: because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Not because of our liking or disliking a particular priest, bishop or pope. When one part of our body is sick and in pain, we do not despise the whole body and reject it, instead we come to the aid of that suffering part with a healing solution. If we apply that analogy to the Church, then the call to be responsible members of the Church as the consecrated People of God through our baptismal call is our right and duty. We can make our anger and frustrations known, together with suggestions for solution.
Even Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former Vatican Nuncio (Ambassador) in Washington, DC., who accused many top Vatican officials including Pope Francis of cover-up, tells this to the whole church: “Even in dismay and sadness over the enormity of what is happening, let us not lose hope! We well know that the great majority of our pastors live their priestly vocation with fidelity and dedication.”
I’m also very happy that Pope Francis does not shy away from this issue. Just last week in Ireland during the World Meeting of Families, he spoke in very strong language about this “grave scandal caused by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education. The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments.”
I invite all of us to prayerfully consider having a respectful conversation about this even as we reflect on the words of St. Peter: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Have a good and relaxing Labor Day Weekend!

                                                                                            Your brother in Christ,

                                                                                            Fr. Abraham Orapankal