Annual Mass held to remember victims of child abuse

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass April 5, 2024, the Friday within the Octave of Easter, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, with the specific intention of praying for victims of child abuse.

This was the 16th year the Diocese has held a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse, which takes place in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“We pray for those who carry the deep and unrelenting pain of the wounds of sexual abuse,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Church must be part of the solution in addressing the scourge of sexual abuse, not a source of the problem. Unfortunately, those roles were reversed in the past, and the gravity of that is well known to all.”

Pope Francis said the actions of those who scandalized and wounded innocent lives have put Holy Mother Church in a suffering position.

While the Church’s credibility has suffered in light of the abuse scandal, Bishop Dewane cited Pope Francis in saying that the first priority must be the victims who showed great courage in speaking out and telling the truth by shedding light on what is a darkness in society, that they may find comfort in the Lord’s healing grace.

“Before God, and you good people, I express sorrow for the sins and for the great crime of clerical abuse committed,” Bishop Dewane said. “For as your Bishop, I humbly ask forgiveness of those who have been abused and of you the faithful.”

While it is a Bishop’s pastoral responsibility to provide utmost care in fostering the protection of minors through his actions and through the comprehensive Diocesan Safe Environment program, we are all called to be vigilant. The Diocese of Venice has a zero-tolerance policy, and works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“I only have one pair of eyes and ears,” Bishop Dewane said. “Between all of us, there are many eyes and many ears. It is better to act, because if we don’t speak, maybe someone will walk through the rest of their life in despair and scarred terribly by what has happened – not because of anything they did but it was something that was thrust upon them. I understand my responsibility, but we must all be vigilant.”

The Safe Environment Program was established to protect the most vulnerable from  abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening. The program, educates thousands each year, working to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors and vulnerable adults. The program provides information on the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention, and reporting of child abuse. The Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools. A key component of the Safe Environment initiative is that it includes a background check for all employees and volunteers.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse and the Safe Environment program, please visit


During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the following Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the 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 the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu

Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.