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Newly-elected Allentown bishop addresses parishioners

VIDEO Newly-elected Allentown bishop...

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop to the Diocese of Allentown, and he's already addressing concerns among the faithful.

Allentown Diocese Bishop-Elect Alfred Schlert isn't naive to the modern struggles of the Catholic community, including getting people back in the pews.

"It's a huge challenge for us and any organized religion," he said.

The Easton-native recognizes the need to appeal to millennials and today's youth, but adds the message of the church can't change.

"This generation, which seems to be more alienated than others, but there are always a generation to address that has it's own unique ways of thinking and the way we need to approach them," he said.

Regaining trust is also crucial for that message, and membership.

Last month, a former monsignor with the diocese pleaded guilty to child porn charges.

Last summer, a lawmaker announced the state's attorney general was looking into clergy sexual abuse in a statewide probe.

"We have to be humble and accept our responsibilities but we can't always be defined by past actions, because we are moving beyond that as far as how we address it as a church," said Rev. Monsignor Schlert.

Despite a perhaps dark cloud over the church, the soon-to-be bishop has a lot of good going for him, including the support of parishioners and familiarity with the diocese.

"He is a very humble man and I think that is going to make him very approachable," said parishioner Nancy Kantz.

"He is such a learned man. He has done so much already in the diocese, he knows everyone," said another parishioner, Maryanna Pohl.

The bishop-elect officially takes his role on August 31, when the ordination and installation ceremony will take place at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena.


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