In his letter to the People of God regarding sexual abuse and ecclesial coverup of abuse, Pope Francis stated, “Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.” (Letter 8/20/18)
Since the current sexual abuse crisis surfaced, I have been discerning ways that we as a diocese, and particularly me as your bishop and our priests, can offer prayer and penance as a means of spiritual support to the victims whose lives have been irreparably harmed by the heinous crimes committed against them. In addition, I recognize that prayer invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit is also needed as actions are taken to ensure that this abuse, and the cover-up of abuse, never happens again.
Therefore, after consulting with the pastors and priests of our diocese, I am asking each parish to join me in offering opportunities for prayer and reparation between now and the First Sunday of Advent. It will be up to each pastor to discern what is appropriate for his parish.
Possibilities for this prayer could include, but are not limited to:
• Mass(es) of Reparation
• Holy Hours with the specific intention of healing for victims
• Rosary for Healing and Protection
• Stations of the Cross
• Chaplet of Divine Mercy
• First Friday Devotions
• Designated days of fasting and penance
• Prayers/Intercessions during Mass for healing and reparation
As your Bishop, I will lead this effort at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle. Recognizing that the laity of our diocese are not responsible for the atrocities and cover-up that have occurred, I nevertheless humbly invite and ask for your participation recalling the words of Our Lord, “Amen I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:19)
As we continue to work through this difficult and painful period in our Church’s history, be assured of my continued prayers. May Mary, Mother of Sorrows and Our Lady of Hope, pray for us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Gregory L. Parkes
Bishop of St. Petersburg
Given September 14, 2018
Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross