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Seek the Lord: by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

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The return of students for the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year highlights the grave responsibility that clerics, employees and volunteers serving in schools and parishes of the archdiocese share: protecting the children entrusted to our care. Because of our commitment to safety, I recently placed a priest on leave due to inappropriate interactions with minors, although no abuse was reported at that time. I spoke with The Catholic Telegraph about this matter, and you can read the full story and my remarks here. That priest has since been indicted by a grand jury due to criminal allegations. This is a time of much pain for our local Church. All of this deeply saddens me.

The wounds from the sex abuse tragedy that have engulfed the Catholic Church worldwide are still raw. Undoubtedly, we would all prefer to hear no more about this painful subject. However, to forget is to deny and to deny is to prevent healing.

For that reason, we will observe our second annual Day of Prayer for the Church and the Victims of Abuse at Masses across the archdiocese on Friday, September 13. I will be offering Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, downtown Cincinnati, at 5:15 that evening. That is the day before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which celebrates the triumph of Christ over sin and death at the very moment when He appeared to be defeated.

The term “Church” has many different valid meanings, depending on context – from a building for Christian worship to the teaching authority of the pope and the bishops. In the context of the Day of Prayer for the Church and the Victims of Abuse, the term refers to all of us, the Body of Christ and the People of God.

Prayer in every situation of our lives is essential, but so is action. Pope Francis earlier this year issued new worldwide norms to address the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults, sexual acts compelled through abuse of authority, and any cover-up of these evils. Importantly, the norms also require involvement of the laity and hold bishops accountable.

The pope’s norms are compatible with the strong policies of the archdiocese’s Decree on Child Protection, promulgated in 1993 and strengthened every five years in the light of experience.

If you suspect abuse by any agent of the archdiocese, please report it immediately to the appropriate civil legal authorities and to the Coordinator of Ministry for Survivors of Abuse in the archdiocese at 513-263-6623 or 1-800-686-2724, ext. 6623. All such reports are investigated thoroughly. I am deeply grateful to the brave victim-survivors and others who have come forward in the past.

As we continue our efforts to protect children, we seek healing for the Body of Christ and for those who have been abused. Please join us in prayer on September 13, and pray with me now this Prayer of Healing for Victims of Abuse:

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by the blood of his cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.
Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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