Indianapolis, Ind., Jun 16, 2017 / 12:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Beatitudes call us to own our responsibility for suffering in the world, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta preached on Wednesday at a Mass for victims of clergy sexual abuse. Through the Beatitudes, Christ “calls us to see with new eyes how to live in a world so continually filled with sorrow, injustice, and violence,”
Archbishop Gregory preached during a June 14 Mass of Prayer and Penance for Healing of Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse in Indianapolis. Christ also teaches “how important it is to acknowledge our own share in causing or compounding the sorrows, suffering, and violence that often seem to surround us,” he added.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, said the Mass at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Indianapolis, on the first day of the bishops’ annual spring general assembly. The Mass was celebrated in response to Pope Francis’ call that bishops' conferences around the world hold a day of prayer and penance for the victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors noted last year that a survivor of clerical child sexual abuse had proposed a universal day of prayer for all victims. During the Mass, Cardinal DiNardo asked forgiveness from all the victims of sexual abuse in the Church. “In solidarity with our brother bishops around the world, we acknowledge the sins that have occurred,” he said, “and ask forgiveness from, and healing of, those that have suffered abuse at the hands of those who should have been protecting and caring for them.”
At the end of the Mass, all the bishops present knelt and prayed a commemorative prayer for victims of clergy sex abuse. Archbishop Gregory preached the homily on the Gospel for the day, Matthew 5: 17-19. The archbishop apologized on behalf of the conference for all the harm done to abuse survivors and for the scandal that resulted.
“At this Mass, we bishops humbly and sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those who have been harmed, scandalized, or disspirited by events that, even if they happened many years ago, remain ongoing sources of anguish for them, and for those who love them,” he said. “We humbly seek forgiveness from the faith-filled people of our Church and from our society at large, and especially from those whose lives may have been devastated from our failure to care adequately for the little ones entrusted to us, and for any decision that we made or should have made that exacerbated the sorrow and the heartache that the entire Church has felt and continues to feel for what we have done, and for what we have failed to do,” he continued.
“We can never say that we are sorry enough for the share that we have had in this tragedy of broken fidelity and trust.” Only in Christ can true healing be found, the archbishop insisted. He said that “ultimately, it must be the Lord Himself Who heals and reconciles the hearts of those who live with the pain of God’s law unheeded.” “For that grace, with sincere hearts, with contrite spirits, and with a renewed promise to protect, we simply pray this evening.”