After meetings with the Archbishop and others, the Archbishop had decided to rescind his appointment of Fr. Joseph Jiang to St. Gabriel.
As he states in his letter to us there is no reason Fr. Jiang cannot be assigned to a parish with a school, but since many still struggle with clerical abuse, and how it has been addressed, and seeing the level of concern that I have made known to him, that exists in the parish, he does not want to put either the parish or Fr. Jiang through a very difficult experience.
I spoke to the Archbishop of the many people who do not condemn Fr. Jiang and who think he is innocent, still feel fear of the unknown. The unknown of who Father Jiang is and what really happened with him. I believe that maybe with a better process this could have been addressed but time did not allow this to happen.
To better address though both the process of an appointment and for healing the Archbishop has offered to come and meet with our Parish Council and Board of Education to help each other and to discuss where do we go from here. We will be meeting soon to begin this discussion.
I heard, this past week, the zeal that many had for their children and their role as their primary protector. Many went into action right away. I believe that we as a community and as parents need to also reevaluate whether we have used that same zeal to guide our children in faith. We as a parish community need to guide our youth; are we praying with them, are we bringing them to Church does our faith have a primary focus in our lives? It is my hope and prayer that the Archbishop along with our parish leadership can help us grow into a new level of faith. I do not believe things just happen but I believe this is a wakeup call from the Holy Spirit inviting us all into a deeper and more profound faith relationship. My pledge is to help all in this quest and above all to call all of us to live out God’s great command of love. Please see below Archbishops Carlson’s letter to our parish. God Bless you and the parish family of St. Gabriel.
Msgr. John Shamleffer
Dear St. Gabriel the Archangel parishioners,
Since the announcement of the assignment of Father Joseph Jiang to your parish as associate pastor, I have heard from many of you about your concerns. I have considered and prayed over the concerns that have been raised.
While there is no reason Fr. Jiang could not or should not be assigned to a parish with a school, at the same time, I realize that very few priests have been exonerated in the courts as has Fr. Jiang. Unfortunately, the level of your concern is a sign of the healing which still needs to take place in the Church when dealing with historical abuse.
I believe a positive step to aid with the healing that must take place would be for me to meet with your school and parish leadership, including the parish council and school board, to discuss the concerns that have been voiced. I am working with Monsignor Shamleffer to schedule an open dialogue with members of your parish in the very near future and I look forward to meeting with them. The Church, your parish, should be a place of not only physical safety, but spiritual refuge for all who worship in it. Together we can work toward a better understanding of what Fr. Jiang has gone through, the reaction to his appointment on the part of so many parishioners, the work that the Church has done over the years to safeguard our children, and then to discuss where we go from here as a parish and as an archdiocese.
I am not assigning Fr. Jiang to St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish at this time. I regret that an opportunity for Fr. Jiang and the parish community to get to know one another was not created before assigning him to your parish. He is a talented and pastoral priest.
Be assured of my prayers for you and I ask for your prayers for me.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson