You are the Light of the World

OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

14 May 2019

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

On May 7 Pope Francis issued a motu proprio, “Vos Estis Lux Mundi”, “You are the Light of the World”.
In this action, the Holy Father has modified Church law that mandates every diocese in the Catholic
Church follow the outlined procedure regarding allegations of abuse by a bishop, clergy or member of an
institute of religious or apostolic life.

This decree is a result of the gathering of representatives of Catholic Bishop’s Conferences from across
the world that was convened by Pope Francis in February 2019. Our Holy Father has taken sexual abuse
of minors and vulnerable adults very seriously.

The Diocese of Fairbanks has had a very sad history of abuse of minors which resulted in a bankruptcy
process. While abuse survivors were compensated, this in no manner addresses the profound wound of the
evil perpetrated against them. These innocent victims daily live with the effects of such crimes committed
against them.

As our Holy Father has indicated in this document, “We are the Light of the World.” We includes each
one of us. Yes, each and every person is created in the sacred image and likeness of God. No person can
ever take this away. We as a diocese, and particularly as priests, religious and Church personnel are
committed to accompanying abuse survivors. I know our Church personnel in the diocese regularly
accompany abuse survivors helping them see that they are “The Light of the World.” This prayerful
accompaniment brings hope and healing.

On May 1, I was invited by two clergy abuse survivors who work with Spirit Fire, to attend a gathering of
bishops and survivors in Washington, D.C. The gathering was most powerful. We heard some horrible
stories of abuse. The pain and suffering casts a long and dark shadow that affects people to this day. I was
deeply touched by the fact that clergy abuse survivors wanted to dialogue with bishops, and truly want to
be part of a solution bringing healing and hope to other abuse survivors who are in our communities.
Also, they want to proclaim the sacredness and holiness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ because in their
words, “they experienced the worst.” I truly saw the power of the Holy Spirit working to bring hope and
healing as it pushes against the darkness and evil of our Church and world.

The Diocese of Fairbanks takes most seriously our Safe Environment Policies, but in order for these
protections to be implemented and effective it requires the cooperation of all the faithful in their
respective parishes. I thank you for your concerted efforts to make this a priority. Our children and
vulnerable adults need to know our churches and schools are safe places where their sacred dignity is
honored and protected.

I truly believe that as the Catholic Church addresses its own failures of negligence of leadership, crimes
committed by Church personnel and becomes more proactive promoting safe environment, we can be a
“light in the world.” It is most sad to see more abuse stories surface in the news from various sectors of
society. There is a wound in our world that is calling out for the light of Christ and the protection of our
children and vulnerable adults. While laws to address abuse are necessary, more importantly, we need to
announce to our world that beauty, goodness and truth of God lives in every person and that all of us have
a responsibility to honor and protect it.

Sincerely in Christ,

 

 

†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks

Fr. Bala Gangarapu Departure

OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

28 February 2019

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fr. Bala Gangarapu will be returning to his home diocese of Hyderabad in India by 1 July 2019. In June 2014, Fr. Bala was granted permission to work in the Diocese of Fairbanks for a total of five years from his Archbishop.

Fr. Bala traveled to many of our remote villages, and recently served at Sacred Heart Cathedral and Immaculate Conception Church (Fairbanks). He made several trips down the snowy and icy roads to care for the parishes in Healy and Nenana. Thank you for your generosity in serving the good people of God in the Diocese of Fairbanks. It has been an honor and privilege to work with Fr. Bala and we will all miss him dearly.

Sincerely in Christ,

 

 

†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are quickly approaching a time when our nation provides us the privilege to cast our vote.  The diocesan offices and parish offices will have received several voting guides provided by various organizations.

As a newly ordained priest, I innocently passed out various voting guides and the result was we were approached by an organization with potential legal action if the voting guides were not removed. I ask that our parishes provide as handouts or post on their respective websites only materials provided on the Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship USCCB website.

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship – usccb.org

Catholics Care. Catholics Vote. “We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.”

This has been reviewed by their legal counsel. Thank you for taking your time to vote with a well formed conscience.

Sincerely in Christ,

Bishop Chad Zielinski

Bishop Barron Q&A about the Sexual Abuse Crisis

Bishop Robert Barron, known for his Word on Fire ministry and an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, comments on the current abuse crisis facing the Catholic Church in a video released August 27, 2018. The 24-minute video features Bishop Barron, interviewed by Word of Fire Content Director Brandon Vogt.

“Friends, many of you have asked for my thoughts on the McCarrick abuse crisis, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and the recent report from Archbishop Viganò,” the bishop said. “We’re all devastated by the horrific suffering of these many victims, and we’re all wondering what to do next.

“I shared some thoughts a couple weeks ago, in an article, but I thought it might be helpful to have a more candid conversation today, building on the USCCB‘s statement just released (https://bit.ly/2od0uW5), which I wholly support.”