by Bob Reddy (5/2/12)
VENICE â€“Â The events of the past cannot be changed, but the healing process for the victims of child abuse must come from the light and love of Christ.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane carried this message forward during the annual Masses for Victims of Child Abuse on April 17 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and on April 18 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. April has been designated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic of Bishops as Child Abuse Prevention Month and this is the fifth year Bishop Dewane has held such Masses.
â€śChristâ€™s message of light and love is for those who might feel abandoned and whose life might have been damaged by this scourge of abuse,â€ť Bishop Dewane said. â€śWe must continue to love and reach out to those who are carrying this cross as they journey through life.â€ť
Bishop Dewane said it is the continuing challenge and responsibility of the Church and all Catholics to foster forgiveness and healing.
While the ongoing efforts to create a safe environment continue in the Diocese of Venice and throughout the Universal Church, he noted that everyone shares the responsibility to be vigilant and be witnesses for the vulnerable.
Bishop Dewane noted that during a recent visit to Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI personally acknowledged the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made to ensure both the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise.
Pope Benedict said during the visit: â€śIt is my hope that the Church’s conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society.”
During the prayers of the faithful, the congregation prayed for those who have suffered abuse, that they may experience Godâ€™s profound love for them and His healing powers. They also prayed for those who provide help for the individuals who have been abused: counselors, therapists and family members, to act with wisdom and compassion in their outreach of healing.
Each year the Diocese of Venice conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions. The mission of the Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, about the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. The program also provides training programs for children and young people in Catholic schools.
The Diocese annually undergoes a comprehensive audit from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.
To report an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by someone working or volunteering in the Church, call Barbara DiCocco, victim assistance minister, 941-416-6114. She returns calls within 24 hours and coordinates assistance for the immediate pastoral care of victims while respecting the privacy of those who seek assistance.
A PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE
Father of endless love, ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just: You gave your only Son
to save us by the blood of his cross. Gentle Jesus,
shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain
of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by
those who betrayed the trust placed in them. Hear our
cries as we agonize over the harm done to our brothers
and sisters.Â Breathe the spirit of wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope, steady shaken spirits with
faith: Show us the way to justice and wholeness, enlightened
by truth and enfolded in your mercy. Holy Spirit, comforter of
hearts, heal your peopleâ€™s wounds and transform our
brokenness. Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace,
so that we may act with justice and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.