The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, has sent a video message to mark the annual Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse in Ireland. An initiative of Pope Francis, the Catholic Church in Ireland first marked the Day of Prayer in 2017.
“I am sorry for what happened to you,” Archbishop Martin tells victims in his message. “I am sorry for the terrible failures and crimes that happened in your Church, and I want to do my best to ensure that no one else suffers in the way that you did.”
“They need to hear from Church leaders like me,” Archbishop Martin says, saying also that it is “no wonder” so many victims of abuse find it difficult to forgive or to trust the Church. Archbishop Martin insists that he and other Church leaders “realise the harm that has been done to them.”
“We are sorry for that, and that we want to make atonement,” He says. A centrepiece of the Day’s events is the lighting of a Candle of Atonement, which Irish bishops have blessed and dedicated for use in their cathedrals and parishes. A prayer accompanies the candle-lighting:
Lord, forgive us our many sins.
We grieve and repent with all our hearts for having offended you, for our great failings and neglect of the young and vulnerable.
We place all of those who have been hurt by the Church in any way into your loving hands and under the protection of Our Blessed Mother.
Lord, bring peace to their broken lives and show us all the way out of darkness and into the light of your Word.
May we as the people of God be more fully human, more fully Christ-like and more fully your people, that we may see the errors of the past and go forward with renewed hope and faith in Christ and in our Church.
Introducing the Atonement Candles in 2019, Archbishop Martin explained that they and the 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,” and said his hope is that the candles may burn “as a reminder of the need for atonement,” symbolising “repentance, light in the darkness and hope.”