Bishop Lucia celebrates Mass for Healing

Sun staff report

Celebrating a Mass for Healing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception April 29, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia cited the first letter of John, which reminds the faithful “we are called to do one thing and that is to face our sin — to face the darkness in our lives, as individuals and as Church.”

The Mass was celebrated at the end of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the week after Bishop Lucia announced 371 claims alleging child sexual abuse had been filed against the diocese through its Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings.

“One victim of sexual abuse is too many! And so, to see the number ‘371’ is particularly disheartening and of the greatest concern for me because of the damage done both directly and collaterally,” the bishop wrote in an April 19 letter to the people. “To all victims of sexual abuse, I renew my commitment and that of this local Church to assist you in the healing process. We seek to make amends for the wrong and sinful behavior perpetrated against you and cannot apologize enough for the failure to protect you from your abusers.”

The bishop was joined by retired Bishop Robert J. Cunningham and several diocesan priests for the Mass, which was celebrated to “particularly pray for the gifts of healing and fortitude for all victims of crime and oppression.”

“Pope Francis has said that the whole Church needs to face the crisis of child abuse and move toward solutions,” Bishop Lucia said in his homily. “If the people of God, the people in the pew, are really going to take up the call to be involved, it is so important that we begin to feel some greater sense of ownership in the Church. That means, for a start, being able to express our thoughts and feelings, and know we are being heard.

“We need also to see the representatives of the Church, diocesan leaders, parish leaders, angry and suffering and grieving with us, really listening to us, and inviting us to work together to help find the answers.

“This is the best way, sisters and brothers, to open the door for the Spirit, so that the healing can begin. So that people can keep their faith alive, and so that they will see that the personal and systemic evil in the Church so vividly on display in this crisis is not God’s will, and is not all there is to the people of God, who have striven in all ages in their Spirit-driven but still frail human way to bring Jesus’ redeeming life and the kingdom of God into the world.”

Jesus “wants us to yoke ourselves to Him, especially when we don’t know, when we can’t even comprehend how we can go any farther or what we can do,” the bishop said.

“I think that is what is so important for us today — that as you and I are being called to active discipleship, that we can hold on to hope that change is possible, and to work for it, trusting that God can bring new life out of the worst kinds of death.”

As we face our sins, “God promises not only not for us to walk this way alone, but he promises to light the way for us,” Bishop Lucia said. The Lord wants us to remember “that we too not only can bear Christ within us, but like Catherine of Siena, we can be Christ bearers to those we meet. And it’s in being those Christ bearers that we can help lift the burdens. It’s in carrying that light we can cast out the darkness and make real our commitment that this should never happen again, that one case of child abuse — of any abuse — is one too many.”

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