By Lydia O’Kane
Just a week before senior bishops and major religious superiors gather with Pope Francis in Rome to discuss child safeguarding throughout the universal Church, the Bishops of Ireland are asking people to remember and pray for all those who carry with them life long suffering as a result of abuse.
February 15th is the annual Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse and this year Candles of Atonement will be lit in Cathedrals and Parishes throughout Ireland.
The Candles, which were recently blessed by the Bishops during a retreat at Knock Shrine in the west of the country, are a symbol of repentance, hope and light in the darkness, says the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin who will travel to Rome for the upcoming protection of minors meeting.
The Primate of All Ireland also explains that, “in lighting these candles we will bring to mind our brothers and sisters, and their families who have been left with a lifelong suffering as a result of abuse, whose trust was so deeply betrayed and whose faith has been so cruelly tested within the sanctity of the Church by perpetrators of abuse.”
The accompanying prayer was written by an abuse survivor and the Archbishop of Armagh expresses the hope that, “the ‘Candle of Atonement’ and accompanying prayer are offered as a reminder to all of the need for us to atone, to ask forgiveness as a Church for the suffering caused by abuse.”
Please find below the Candle of Atonement Prayer
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.