Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse – 24th February
The Day of Prayer is an initiative of the Holy Father Pope Francis and was first marked in Irish dioceses in 2017. In previous years, candles have been lit in cathedrals and churches across the country as a reminder of the need for atonement and to symbolise repentance; light in the darkness and hope. Clergy are again encouraged to bless and dedicate Candles of Atonement for use in cathedrals and parishes on the Day of Prayer, and thereafter during the celebration of Mass and other liturgies. Here are some prayer resources for your consideration:
- Graphics – attached in different dimensions, and below – for use by parishes on social media to highlight the Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse
- Brief address on 7 February by the Irish delegation at Continental Synodal Assembly in Prague
- Article and prayer for publication Parish newsletters
- Liturgy for Blessing and Dedication of the Candle of Atonement
- Towards Peace Spiritual Support Service – information and graphics
- Brief address on 7 February 2023 by Irish delegation at the Continental Synodal Assembly in Prague
In 2022, during the Diocesan phase of the Synod which took place across the country, the Pobal Dé – the People of God in Ireland – listened deeply and heard many testimonies from those who, sadly, have been wounded within the Church. Women and men courageously came forward to speak about the sexual, institutional, emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual abuse by members of the Church in Ireland. Their voice went to the very heart of what is needed for our Church: conversion. In hearing their prophetic voice, we recognise that abuse is an open wound and will remain a barrier to communion, participation, and mission until it is comprehensively addressed. However, if there is clear action, with the courage to go deeper and to fully understand the causes, the Church in Ireland – and universally – can become the “field hospital” that Pope Francis desires us to be.
- Article and prayer for publication in Parish newsletters:
This year’s Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse will take place on 24 February, the first Friday of Lent. The Day of Prayer is an initiative of Pope Francis and was first marked in Irish dioceses in 2017. Blessed candles will be lit in parishes across the country as a reminder to the faithful of the need for atonement and to symbolise repentance; light in the darkness and hope. These ‘Candles of Atonement’ will be lit in diocesan cathedrals and churches on the Day of Prayer, and thereafter during the celebration of Mass and other liturgies. The lighting of the ‘Candle of Atonement’, and the following prayer, are based on the very moving Penitential Rite composed and prayed by Pope Francis at the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families on 26 August 2018 at Phoenix Park, Dublin, when the Holy Father implored the Lord’s mercy for the crimes of abuse and asked for forgiveness:
Lord, forgive us our many sins.
We grieve and repent with all our hearts for having offended you, for our great failings and neglect of the young and vulnerable.
We place all of those who have been hurt by the Church in any way into your loving hands and under the protection of Our Blessed Mother.
Lord, bring peace to their broken lives and show us all the way out of darkness and into the light of your Word.
May we as the people of God be more fully human, more fully Christ-like and more fully your people, that we may see the errors of the past and go forward with renewed hope and faith in Christ and in our Church.
- Liturgy for Blessing and Dedication of Candle of Atonement
The following prayer of repentance was given to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin, by a person who had suffered abuse with the intention to share in parishes. In 2012 the prayer was inscribed on the healing stone which was unveiled at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, and its permanent site is now at Lough Derg, Co Donegal, in the Diocese of Clogher.
Prayer of repentance
Lord, we are so sorry
for what some of us did to your children:
treated them so cruelly,
especially in their hour of need.
We have left them with a lifelong suffering.
This was not your plan for them or us.
Please help us to help them.
Guide us, Lord, Amen.
A Dhia, tá aiféal orainn
as ucht na rudaí a rinne cuid dúinn dod phaistí:
gur caitheadh leo chomh chrualach,
in am a gátar ach go háirithe.
Dfhágamar iad le cruatan saoil.
Níorbh é seo do scéim dóibh súid ná dúinne.
Cabhraigh linn le cabhair a thabhairt dóibh súid.
Treoraí sinn, a Thiarna, Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
Introduction: with humility of heart, we pray to God, whose love and faithfulness endures forever.
- We pray for people who have been abused
that the Lord of all tenderness and compassion
will restore them and give them peace.
- We pray that we become more and more a community
that actively protects the most vulnerable people of society, particularly our children.
- We pray that the Spirit of Wisdom enlightens people
to put an end to acts of violence and abuse.
- We pray for the healing professions
who minister to those who suffer violence and abuse,
that God will give them an abundance of wisdom, compassion and love.
God our rock and our strength on whom we lean,
help us to create an atmosphere of trust
which allows the unspeakable to be said.
Help us to live with our painful memories.
May we support each other and be safe places for each other.
Through Christ, our Lord.
Towards Peace Spiritual Support Service
Towards Peace is an independent organization that provides a spiritual support and professional service for survivors of physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse who suffered in an institutional, clerical or religious setting in Ireland. Funded by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Association of Missionary and Religious in Ireland, the vision of Towards Peace is to provide a safe supportive space for people and their families, whose spiritual life has been damaged by abuse. Through spiritual accompaniment with a qualified spiritual director, Towards Peace endeavours to accompany people as they seek their own experience of spiritual peace, one step at a time. Towards Peace is also a response to the continually growing understanding of the spiritual impact of the trauma of abuse and seeks to raise awareness about this within the Church. The Towards Peace Spiritual Support Service is free of charge and for more please see https://towardspeace.ie/