US diocese has Service of Lament for sex abuse sins

A US diocese notorious for its past handling of clergy sexual abuse has held a Service of Lament.

The special liturgy of penitence took place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City on June 26.

The previous bishop of Kansas City-St Joseph, Bishop Robert Finn, was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty in 2012 to failing to report a suspected abuser.

Pope Francis accepted Bishop Finn’s resignation in 2015.

This followed reports of sexual abuse in the diocese and the bishop’s inadequate response.

At the Service of Lament, a single chime rang out after each victim’s statement was read out.

About 450 lay people attended the service.

Dozens of priests stood around the altar and prayed for the healing of children sexually abused by priests.

The diocese’s current ordinary, Bishop James Johnston, said: “I am here to confess, apologise and repent for the sins of those who held the sacred trust of the Church, and betrayed that trust”.

The bishop’s apology was directed toward not only survivors of abuse, but also their families, the community and innocent priests in the diocese who have been affected by the scandal.

“I offer you my deep sorrow and profound regret for what the Catholic people have endured,” he said.

During the homily, Bishop Johnston also promised to install a visible, permanent reminder of the betrayal.

He also declared an annual diocesan day of care for protection of children on April 26, beginning in 2017.

He said he will create a team that will “review current policy and implement best practices”.

“For those seeking spiritual care, we will develop a programme with people specially trained to serve as spiritual directors,” Bishop Johnston said.

“Please be patient as we embark on this journey together,” he asked.

One abuse survivor called the service of lament “monumental” and said it made a difference for him.


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