BY Peter Diamond | October 4 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Bishop lies prostrate at Westminster Cathedral Mass with abuse survivors

Bishop Keenan said the talks ‘brought home’ the ‘physical and psychological damages against victims but also the moral and spiritual effects.’

The Bishop of Paisley lay prostrate for several minutes in Westminster Cathedral last weekend as he joined laity and priests in a day of prayer for the ‘heinous abuse crimes committed by the Church.’

Bishop John Keenan led the Divine Mercy Day of Prayer invoking the Intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday September 28. The event asked for God’s forgiveness for the sins of the Church and aimed to bring healing, renewal and hope to all affected by abuse.

The day of prayer started with the celebration of Mass and involved confessions throughout the day, Eucharistic adoration and talks from Southwark Archdiocese priest Fr Dominic Allain from the ‘Grief to Grace’ programme.

Prostrate

Bishop Keenan led the packed congregation in the Communal Act of Repentance and Atonement, which involved lying prostrate in silent sorrow.

Bishop Keenan spoke with survivors of abuse on the day with some humbly attending to also ‘pray for the Church.’

“I know there were survivors of abuse attending the service and hopefully it provides some healing for them. When I spoke to them they also said they came to the day of prayer to pray for healing in the Church and for the survivors,” Bishop Keenan said.

“The shrapnel of the abuse scandal has wounded everyone in the Church and left us dispirited and demoralised,” he said.

“Therefore, we all need to be healed and turn towards the Lord and surrender to his mercy and ask for his help in order to bring hope to all.”

From grief to grace

Fr Dominic Allain provided two talks on the day on the damage caused by abuse in the Church.

Bishop Keenan said the talks ‘brought home’ the ‘physical and psychological damages against victims but also the moral and spiritual effects.’

“It is very important to understand the heinousness of these crimes and their deadly, lasting agony,” the bishop said.

Abuse crisis

He added: “People are searching for a credible response to the abuse crisis and it is almost too big for all of us to take in on our own and there can often be a fear of facing up to reality.

“My feeling is that there is a great sense of grief among everyone that these things could have taken place within the Church.

“I think the sentiment is that the Church should adapt the spirit of the Prodigal Son, that we have wandered far away, we’ve lost all our senses, but that we are on our way back to the Lord and are ready to confess our sins.

“It’s only when we’ve gone through that journey that God can grant us mercy that we greatly seek.

“The service was a day of hope. This is the best means of hope for the Church of a new dawn and beginning for us. The abuse crisis has shocked the people and humbled the Church,” he added.

“This is a suffering of the universal Church. We are one family across the world, we are one people through the salvation of our lord Jesus Christ.

“The good Lord is waiting to be merciful to His Church, to bring healing to victims and to offer us new life if we will just come to him.”

‘Paralysed’ by abuse

The event was organised by Antonia Moffat, who worked with Bishop Keenan on the Rosary on the Coast last year.

She said the issue of abuse has left the Church ‘paralysed’ and that by ‘publicly displaying penitence’ the Church can be healed.

“The day of prayer was so moving and overwhelming. It is an issue which is so present in the Church that affects everyone; laity, priests and bishops. We have been paralysed by the horror of it,” she said.

EWTN were asked to film the event and Moffat hopes that by broadcasting Catholic viewers will see ‘how repentance for the sins of the Church should be done.’

She also thanked Bishop Keenan for travelling to lead the event.

“Bishop John Keenan has a gift and I cannot thank God enough for him. He is a true shepherd representing the Church,” she said.

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