Bishop Cunningham offers his homily during the Mass of Forgiveness celebrated at Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal Sept. 15. (Sun photo | Katherine Long)

By Katherine Long | Editor

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Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is seen in the gathering area of the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Vestal. (Sun photo | Katherine Long)

After a summer marked by painful revelations of sexual abuse in the global Church and the opening of an investigation into handling of sexual abuse claims New York’s dioceses, parishes around the Diocese of Syracuse celebrated Masses of Forgiveness last weekend, the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham called on all parishes of the diocese to celebrate the special Masses.

“I am inviting people to join me in any of our parishes for a Mass of Forgiveness during which we will pray for all of those harmed by the sexual abuse at the hands of our clergy,” the bishop said in a statement Sept. 12.

“I will be praying and fasting for my own sins. As suggested by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we Catholics pray and fast ‘to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst from power and possessions that are so often roots of evil. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people, and disabled.’”

Bishop Cunningham celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Vestal Sept. 15.

“I come to you today, in many ways, with a heavy heart,” he said in his homily. “Heavy that these types of celebrations of repentance are necessary.”

The bishop reminded the congregation that “it’s important for us to take time to… recognize that, as members of the Church, when one member suffers we all suffer, and our basic need to pray for each other, to sacrifice for each other.”

He noted that it was good for the Church to be gathered together “to pray for forgiveness, trust, hope for victims” and for members of the Church suffering all over the world.

The Universal Prayer offered petitions that all bishops treat victims of clergy abuse with “courage, compassion, and honesty”; that survivors of abuse know healing; and that the Church “comfort those who suffer from abuse, neglect, and doubt and seek and to extend mercy where it is needed.”

Bishop Cunningham closed the Mass with an additional, personal prayer request: “Last week I was asked by a person who had been the victim of abuse if I would ask people to pray that she might have trust in the future.”


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