Pope Francis has called for all Catholics to engage in penitential prayer and fasting following the revelations of abuse in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.
In a letter “to the People of God”, the Pope said Christians should join together in penance to “awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.”
“It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People,” he added.
“It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable,” he said. “Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.”
Pope Francis acknowledged that the Church did not act in an appropriate and timely manner to accusations of abuse, nor did it realise the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.
“May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled,” the Pope said.
“A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.”