July 22, 2020
With allegations of sexual misconduct recently coming to light, we recall the words of St. Paul saying, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). We condemn the cruelty of any and all sexual misconduct. The betrayal of trust and abuse of authority by any member of the clergy or servant within our churches is, without exception, unacceptable and abhorrent to the teachings of our Christian faith. We bitterly regret any harm inflicted on our daughters, sons, or their families.
The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese in New Jersey and the Diocese of New York and New England (“Archdiocese and Diocese”) will not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind, including sexual abuse of minors by any of our clergy, employees or servants. If anyone is aware of any suspected incident of sexual abuse of a minor by any such person, we urge you to immediately report to law enforcement and also to your Regional Vicar, whose contact information may be accessed through your parish priest.
We pledge our best efforts to prevent any such conduct, to immediately report allegations of such conduct to law enforcement, to promptly investigate such allegations, and to take appropriate action.
To honor this pledge, the Archdiocese and Diocese will continue to act in accordance with our Sexual Misconduct Policies. We urge all our clergy, employees and servants to review and comply with those Policies. We also urge them to thoughtfully apply our Guidelines on Interactions with Children and Young People. These Guidelines offer direction on how best to interact with children. We are bound by the words of Christ Himself who said, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).
Our Policies and Guidelines have been distributed to our clergy and will be made available online to our employees and our servants who interact regularly with minors.
To those who have suffered, we hear you. We stand by you. We pray for you in the words of Psalms 147:3, for the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” May the Helper, the Holy Spirit through the Church, the Bride of Christ, provide comfort to those afflicted and provide healing and restoration to us all.
Dear beloved congregations of the churches of the Archdiocese of North America in New Jersey and the Diocese of New York & New England.
Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ to each and every one of you. We continue to pray for your safety and well-being and for the steadfastness of your faith during this difficult time.
We are facing an unprecedented situation in the recent history of our Church. In response to the global outbreak of COVID-19, communities throughout the world have taken extreme measures to attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus, including government-mandated lockdowns of entire regions. As you know, despite these efforts, cases in the United States have continued to rise and pose a significant health risk to individuals of all ages. Unfortunately, our community has likewise been impacted, as several parishioners and members of the clergy have tested positive for COVID-19.
In view of our spiritual and moral obligations and civic responsibility to cooperate with our leaders and make every effort to protect the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, the Church is cooperating fully with government efforts to implement social distancing.
Out of our love and care for our congregations and our neighbors, we are suspending all liturgical services in all of our churches effective immediately and until further notice. Each church will continue to reach out and serve her beloved children through our various technological capabilities, and we will remain united throughout this difficult period in prayer and fasting. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your priest(s) or servants in the event of any need.
Although the church building may be temporary closed, the mystical spiritual church within each of us, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our bodies as the Temple of God (1Cor 3:16;1Cor 6:19), is still open for prayer and offering an acceptable sacrifice to our Heavenly Father. In addition, during this period, the priests shall continue to pray liturgies in their homes upon the holy consecrated tablets which are used as portable alters and intercede for their congregation before the omnipresent God. We will remain united throughout this difficult period in prayer and fasting. We are all at your service if you ever need anything. Please do not hesitate for a moment to reach out to us.
May our Lord protect His Church and His children throughout the world, shorten these days and bring healing and tranquility to our land.