Phoenix bishops call for days of prayer, fasting in response to abuse

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Office of Child and Youth Protection

The Diocese of Phoenix encourages anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse by any employee of the Roman Catholic Church to please come forward by contacting the Office of Child and Youth Protection.

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Safe Environment Office

The mission of the Safe Environment Training Office is to prevent sexual, physical or emotional abuse and/or neglect of children and young people through continued education, building awareness, and maintaining a commitment to keeping all children and young people safe.

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In the aftermath of revelations surrounding Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick and the newly released grand jury report on six Pennsylvania dioceses, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares called for a day of fasting and prayer Aug. 22, the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Aug. 29, the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

In a joint pastoral letter, the bishops expressed their “deep level of sadness and anger.”

Archbishop McCarrick, the former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington resigned the cardinalate after accusations that he’d abused minors as a young priest were found credible. Other questions surround how he was able to rise through the ranks of the Church after allegations against him surfaced during his tenure as bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey and as archbishop of Newark that were later settled out of court.

The Pennsylvania attorney general held a news conference Aug. 14 announcing a 900-page report detailing decades of child sexual abuse by 301 priests, who harmed more than 1,000 victims.

“These shameful and evil actions have harmed many innocent people, especially the young; and they are utterly inexcusable,” the bishops said in the letter. “This has also caused great pain, confusion and dismay among us all — laity, religious and clergy — who remain committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are sorry that you have had to endure this anguish.”

The bishops expressed support the recent announcement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to develop a new plan involving laity and experts and the invitation for an apostolic invitation from the Vatican.

“We welcome these efforts and renew our own commitments to do all we can to protect young people and others who are vulnerable, and to bring healing to those who have been abused.”

The bishops regularly celebrate Masses of Healing and Reconciliation during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, and the Diocese of Phoenix has supported Restore Dignity’s “Grief to Grace” retreat to offer healing for those who have suffered abuse.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares

The three goals of the new national effort include:

  1. an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick;
  2. an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and
  3. advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.

These goals will be pursued through proper independence, sufficient authority and substantial leadership by laity.

“Our office of Child and Youth Protection continues to provide assistance to victims and ongoing safe environment training to our schools and parishes in the Diocese of Phoenix,” the bishops said.

“During this dark and painful time, there is also a strong need to look to the light and healing of Jesus,” they added. “Since our Lord told us that some evils can only be driven out by prayer and fasting, we invite you, as your shepherds, to join us in prayer, fasting and sacrifice for the purification of our Church.”

The bishops asked all priests, deacons, religious men and women and the lay faithful to join together in fasting and prayer on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29.

“May Our Lady’s motherly care and powerful intercession bring the light of her Son to our hurting Church.”