Lehigh Valley

5,000 people sign online petition asking for resignation of U.S. Bishops

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It's a tumultuous time for the Catholic Church.

First came the grand jury report, then came charges against an Allentown priest and just recently, a new claim against a Berks priest serving in Florida.

Those incidents have some of the faithful reeling and asking for resignations.

An online petition is gaining momentum among the Catholic community. More than 5,000 people have signed onto the request for the resignation of all U.S. Bishops. 

In an open letter posted on Daily Theology, more than 5,000 Catholic educators, workers and lay people have added their names.

The letter reads in part, "Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God's People."

69 News spoke to three Lehigh Valley Catholics about the sexual abuse scandal and the future of the church and the petition.

Marie Lisby signed it.

"The trust of the people is not there any longer. So you need to get the hierarchy out. Get all those bishops out. Clean the house and hopefully, and then only hopefully, you know we could rebuild the church the way God intended to church to be," Lisby said. 

Joe Facchiano disagrees.

He says he believes the church, more specifically Bishop Alfred Schlert, is handling the situation the way it should have been handled 30 years ago.

Facchiano says if the pope wants the resignations of U.S. Bishops, he will ask for them.

"I don't believe it something that popular opinion should determine. I think that the hierarchy of the church will know how to deal with it and will deal with it," said Facchiano. 

But Kevin Young says trust in the institutional church has been damaged on a level that is difficult to comprehend. 

Young says he believes the only path to true healing and reform would mean new leadership at the top. 

"I think that for the pope, as the global head of the church and chief shepherd of Catholics around the world to confess his sins in a public way, admit his faults and step down and make way for someone who is willing to pursue justice for the people of God. That is a necessary first step," Young said. 

A spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown sent 69 News a statement for this story saying in part: "Bishop Schlert has been a leader in dealing with clergy abuse and keeping children safe. Under his leadership, the Diocese has made significant improvements in protections for children, reported all offenders to law enforcement, removed offending priests from ministry, and ensured that victims and survivors are heard and treated with dignity." 

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