The Vatican will investigate allegations of abuse against a northern New Jersey pastor that date back several decades, the Archdiocese of Newark said in a letter that was both sympathetic to the congregations he served and "grateful" to the pastor for his patience.

In the letter to the St. Rose of Lima and St. John the Evangelist communities, the Archdiocese said it "had no option but to undertake an extensive, time-consuming inquiry to both determine the facts of the matters and whether any action under Canon Law should be sought."

Msgr. George Trabold, 68, stepped down as leader of St. Rose of Lima in October 2014, after someone brought forth allegations of abuse in the 1970s. The nature of the alleged abuse has not been disclosed. He'd previously been pastor and parochial vicar at St. John.

The letter from the Archdiocese makes clear for the first time Trabold faces two separate allegations.

In its letter, the Archdiocese said that in those positions, "and as leader in many other ministries throughout his 42 years of service to the Church of Newark, Monsignor Trabold has deepened the faith of thousands of people here in northern New Jersey."

The letter further said the Archdiocese has "been most grateful for his understanding and his adherence to the procedures we must follow" after the allegations were brought to its attention.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said the letter, in communicating to the congregations, sought to recognize the seriousness of the allegations alongside "the presumption that people need to be treated fairly."

"We recognize that this whole thing does cause a lot of concern for people," he said.

According to the letter, two allegations were made against Trabold. Both were referred to the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, but officials there told the Archdiocese they wouldn't be undertaking an investigation because the statute of limitations for prosecution had passed, it said.

It is not clear exactly where the alleged incidents occurred. St. John the Evangelist Parish is in Leonia, in Bergen County. St. Rose of Lima Parish is in Newark, in Essex County.

New Jersey 101.5 has contacted the prosecutor's office seeking comment, and is awaiting a reply.

The matter was investigated by the Archdiocesan Review Board, a panel mainly composed of lay people who have expertise and investigate allegations, the letter said. But that group's role isn't to determine guilt or innocence — only to seek information.

The review board found the allegations "cause some grave concerns" and has recommended Archbishop John J. Myers seek approval from the Vatican for a former Canonical proceeding, which he has done, the letter said.

The information is being forwarded to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will be the authority to resolve the allegations.

Goodness said while there are "certainly a lot of people who have a wonderful respect and affection for Msgr.Trabold," the review board couldn't take that affection into consideration — only the facts of the incidents alleged. 

The letter says Trabold maintains his innocence. His attorney, Gerald Krovatin, could not immediately be reached for comment.

There is no timeframe for resolving the allegations, and all proceedings are confidential, the Archdiocese said.

It encouraged the congregations to work together in a spirit of healing and to "pray for the welfare of those who have brought the allegations to our attention."

The letter is below: