The annual Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse will take place on Friday 19 February 2021, the first Friday of Lent. The Day of Prayer is an initiative by Pope Francis and was first marked in Irish dioceses and parishes in 2017.
Candle of Atonement and Prayer
The bishops of Ireland have blessed and dedicated Candles of Atonement for use in cathedrals and parishes throughout the country on the Day of Prayer and thereafter during the celebration of Mass and other liturgies.
Introducing the Candles of Atonement in 2019, Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “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.
“I have been privileged to meet with victims and survivors of abuse and members of their families in the four provinces of Ireland. Many have spoken to me about the importance of prayer for survivors, and for the need for the Church to be open to justice, to atone and never forget them. I have been humbled by their courage and overwhelmed by their generosity of spirit.
“I encourage dioceses and parishes to undertake this prayer initiative and to light the ‘Candle of Atonement’ in Cathedrals and churches across Ireland again this year. It would mean a lot to survivors if the ‘Candle of Atonement’ was a permanent feature in our Cathedrals and parish churches. People visiting the church for quiet prayer might light the ‘Candle of Atonement’, pray the prayer, and bring to mind someone they know who has been directly impacted or affected by abuse. I am convinced that prayer and outreach to survivors of abuse is a modern-day corporal and spiritual work of mercy.”
Archbishop Eamon continued, “The simple prayer ritual for the dedication and lighting of the ‘Candle of Atonement’ in Cathedrals and parish churches is based on the very moving Penitential Rite composed and prayed by Pope Francis at the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Phoenix Park when he implored the Lord’s mercy for the crimes of abuse and asked for forgiveness.
“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. My hope is that these candles will be lit in Cathedrals and parishes across the country as a reminder of the need for atonement and that they will symbolise repentance, light in the darkness and hope.” Resources are available at www.catholicbishops.ie
The following text was sent to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin by a person who suffered abuse so that it could be shared in parishes. This prayer was inscribed on the healing stone which was unveiled at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 and now has its permanent home at Lough Derg, Co Donegal.
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.
Towards Peace is a spiritual support service for survivors of physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse. Funded by the Irish Catholic Bishop’s 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. The service is free of charge. 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. It has collected a number of publications and online resources about the research in this area, which can be found here: https://towardspeace.ie/resources/.
For further information please contact the Towards Peace office:
Phone: 00353 (0)1 5053028