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Dublin archbishop, Boston cardinal lead atonement service for abuse

Catholic World News - February 21, 2011

At a special liturgy of lament and repentance in Dublin’s pro-cathedral, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin rued the sexual abuse of children and the response by Church authorities to the abuse.

“I can ask myself how did this happen in the Church of Jesus Christ where as we heard in the Gospel children are presented to us as signs of the kingdom,” he said. “How did we not see you in your suffering and abandonment? The Church of Jesus Christ in this Archdiocese Dublin has been wounded by the sins of abusers and by the response to you for which we all share responsibility.”

“All survivors are indebted to those who had the courage to speak out and let it be known what had happened and how they were treated,” he continued. “The Church in Dublin and worldwide and everyone here today is indebted to them. Some of you in your hurt and your disgust will have rejected the Church that you had once loved, but paradoxically your abandonment may have helped purify the Church through challenging it to face the truth, to move out of denial, to recognize the evil that was done and the hurt that was caused.”

“I was asked who should preside at this liturgy,” he added. “My answer was not a Cardinal or an Archbishop but the Cross of Jesus Christ. We gather before the cross of Jesus which presides over us and judges us. It is the Cross of Jesus that judges whether our words and our hearts are sincere.”

The service, which was largely planned by abuse victims, included the washing of the feet of eight victims by Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, whom Pope Benedict appointed as apostolic visitor to the Archdiocese of Dublin.

“On behalf of the Holy Father, I ask forgiveness, for the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by priests, and the past failures of the church’s hierarchy, here and in Rome — the failure to respond appropriately to the problem of sexual abuse,’’ said Cardinal O’Malley. “Publicly atoning for the church’s failures is an important element of asking the forgiveness of those who have been harmed by priests and bishops, whose actions — and inactions — gravely harmed the lives of children entrusted to their care.’’

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