A prayer vigil was held at Rome’s St. Ignatius Church on Dec. 7 to show contrition for clerical sexual abuse. The service was led by Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who currently serves as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. Below is the full text of his homily.
My venerable brother bishops and priests and my dear brothers and sisters,
In the context of the reflection that is taking place during these days of the Symposium “Towards Healing and Renewal”, we remind ourselves that we are here this evening not only as believers, but also as penitents.
The tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by Christians, especially when done so by members of the clergy, is a source of great shame and enormous scandal. It is a sin against which Jesus himself lashed out: “It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Lk. 17:2). Abuse is a crime, in fact, which causes an authentic experience of death for the innocent victims, whom God alone can truly raise to new life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, with profound conviction and awareness of what we do, we turn to and implore the Lord.
This gesture of purification involves the entire Church, and each one of us – Bishops, Religious Superiors, educators, all Christians – feels the pain of what has occurred. We ask that the Spirit of God, who heals and radically renews all things, come down upon us.