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.
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.”
The bishops have made resources available for use in parishes and these can be downloaded from www.catholicbishops.ie.