THE 2023 DAY OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE February 17, 2023 Dear Sister and […]
THE 2023 DAY OF PRAYER AND PENANCE
FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE
February 17, 2023
Dear Sister and Brother Catholics in Japan,
In a world where violence rages, we Christians who believe that God has given us life as a gift have a duty to protect life and human dignity. For the Church, “To proclaim Jesus is itself to proclaim life.” (John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, 80).
In recent years, there have been many reports of clergy and spiritual leaders in the Church who are supposed to lead in protecting life and human dignity committing violence against life and acts that disregard human dignity. Those who have been deeply hurt by acts such as sexual abuse that humiliate and violate human dignity reveal their pain after long periods of suffering and conflict. We sincerely apologize for the actions of those clergy and spiritual leaders who have caused such prolonged and deep suffering.
In particular, there have been reports around the world of clergy who committed despicable acts of sexual abuse against minors in need of protection as well as cases of bishops and other Church leaders covering up the acts of clergy.
Pope Francis has called on the entire Church to take this issue seriously, to admit guilt, to ask for forgiveness, to do its best to restore the dignity of victims, and to establish a “Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse.” The Church in Japan has designated the second Friday of Lent as this day of prayer and penance. In 2023, this is Friday, March 10.
Since 2002, the bishops of Japan have responded by establishing guidelines and establishing a Desk for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Women. In February 2021, the Plenary Assembly of Bishops passed “Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults” and established a system to actively provide protection. Last year, the Desk was promoted as a department directly under the president of the Bishops’ Conference to implement the guidelines and further engage in awareness-raising activities.
Of course, our duty to protect life and human dignity does not have an ending. There are many things that still must be done to change the consciousness of the clergy and the Church as a whole, and the efforts of the Church are still insufficient. To make the system more effective, we will continue to review and improve it.
Once again, I sincerely apologize for the sins of the Church, including indifference and coverup. I pray from the bottom of my heart that those who have been affected will be embraced by God’s healing hand. At the same time, I ask you to pray that we clergy may fulfill our duties worthily.
Please join the bishops in prayer on the second Friday of Lent or on the next Sunday as Pope Francis has asked us.