Call of Pope Francis: Fasting and Prayer as a response to Clergy Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil for World Youth Day at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Italy, April 8, 2017.
Last Monday Pope Francis sent us an open letter, in which he gave his own response to the revelations from the Grand Jury of Pennsylvania, USA, that at least 1000 children and adolescents had been sexually abused by some 301 priests in six dioceses of that state. It is an impassioned letter addressed to the whole People of God, in which he calls on the whole Church to be close to victims in solidarity, and to join in acts of prayer and fasting in penance for all the evil caused. He says:

“Penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other
people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that
are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to
the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled.”

We are all deeply saddened by the enduring suffering it has brought to so many victims and the fact that the sexual abuse happened within the Church’s own institutions, especially among priests and religious. Pope Francis writes:

“The pain of the victims is also our pain and so it is urgent that we once
more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of
vulnerable adults.”

We invite you to read the Pope’s letter (here) and reflect upon it, and perhaps make it the centre of your own personal penance and prayer, even if you haven’t been directly involved in any of this. For we are all a part of the same Church that has failed the victims, so we are also a part of the process of reparation and healing. We also need to ask forgiveness for all of this, from the victims who have suffered, and from our Lord Jesus, who has suffered our failures and lack of response.

As part of our Parish’s response, over the next twelve months we will be holding a monthly Penitential Rite of Reparation and Prayer on the evening of every first Friday of the month from 7.30 until 9pm, starting Friday 7th September. Perhaps it is only a small gesture, but it is still very necessary to make it, and make it together.

This will be held in St. Charles Borromeo Church and will consist of a penitential service of the Word, followed by a reflection, during which the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for an hour of silent prayer and adoration. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available throughout, and the evening with finish with Benediction at 8.50pm. We will be inviting you to fast that evening along with us with this intention in our minds and hearts.

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