In the wake of recent sex abuse scandals, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh has announced a Year of Repentance in the diocese.
He has asked all the clerics to fast and pray for the purification of the Church, and invited all Catholics to join the initiative.
“Faced with the sinful actions of the members of our own ranks of the clergy, who are called to manifest the example of Christ, we feel both shame and sorrow, and are reminded of our own sinfulness and the need for mercy,” Bishop Zubik wrote in a Sept. 10 letter to the clerics and seminarians of the diocese.
“I invite the faithful to join with the clergy as they desire in our acts of prayer and penance. The year is open to individuals to go beyond what I am requesting as we continue to pray that the Lord come to our aid.”
The Year of Repentance will include the observance of the Ember Days, which were traditionally days of fast and abstinence.
Bishop Zubik has asked that on each of the 12 Ember Days in the coming year, clerics of the Diocese of Pittsburgh fast, abstain from meat, and make a Holy Hour.
Ember Days are tied to the seasons of the year, and are held on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of four weeks: the third week of September, the third week of Advent, the first week of Lent, and the octave of Pentecost.
In the Pittsburgh diocese’s Year of Repentance, the Ember Days fall Sept. 19, 21, and 22, 2018, Dec. 19, 21, 22, 2018, March 13, 15, 16, 2019, and June 12, 14, 15, 2019.
Bishop Zubik will inaugurate the Year of Repentance Sept. 23 with Vespers and a Holy Hour at the cathedral.
The year will close with a Mass for the Assumption Aug. 15, 2019 to serve “as a sign of hope and healing for victims and for renewal in the Church through the intercession of Mary.”
In his letter, Bishop Zubik also encouraged the clerics of Pittsburgh to consider restoring the recitation of the prayer to St. Michael after all Masses.