By Cian Molloy - 16 February, 2019
In churches and cathedrals across the country yesterday, prayers were said and special votive candles were lit for the victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
Since 2016, the Irish bishops have held an annual Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse. The day was instigated following a suggestion from Pope Francis that such a day of prayer would not only be an act of healing, it would also help focus the minds of Church members on the need to continue to be vigilant in the fight against sexual abuse within the Church.
During the day, “candles of atonement” were lit in places of worship, with many of these candles having been blessed by Ireland’s bishops during their retreat in Knock last week.
In parishes where these particular consecrated candles were not available, local priests blessed and dedicated candles using a special prayer, which is reproduced below.
Coincidentally, this year’s Day of Prayer comes a week ahead of a Protection of Minors meeting taking place in the Vatican. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the Primate of All Ireland, said this meeting offers the Church an opportunity to come together and to recommit itself to ensuring that best practices in child protection “are in place throughout the world and not just in some countries which have already had the bitter experience of realising this awful crime of abuse”.
The Archbishop said: “I am hoping at this particular gathering, we in Ireland can share the terrible things that have happened here, so that other countries in the world that have not yet recognised or noticed among them that abuse is happening may be alerted. That we might prevent abuse from happening by sharing our bitter experience.”
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.