Italy joins growing number of churches to observe national Day of Prayer for Victims of Clerical Child Sex Abuse

The 1st National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse takes place across Italy’s diocese on November 18.

Bishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni of Ravenna-Cervia and President of the National Service for the Protection of Minors, explains that this is “an occasion to be enhanced in the local Churches thanks to the commitment of diocesan representatives, parish priests, consecrated persons, catechists, educators and all pastoral bodies, so that all components of the Christian community are involved”.

In 2016, Pope Francis wrote to Episcopal Conferences around the world asking them to select the most appropriate day in their specific cultural and social contexts to hold moments of prayer, communion and public awareness raising for victims/survivors of clerical child sexual abuse, their families and communities.

The Holy Father’s imitative was the result of a proposal brought to him by the Pontifical Commissio for the Protection of Minors. Prayer is a central, important part of the healing process for victims/survivors and for the whole community of believers. Moreover, public prayer is an important way of raising consciousness in the Church.

In the experience of our members, victims/survivors have often expressed a desire for prayer as an important element in their healing process. It was a survivor of clerical child sexual abuse who, in fact, first made the proposal to the Commission for a “Day of Prayer” for all victims/survivors of abuse.

Since 2016 worldwide Bishops’ Conferences have taken steps to enact this proposal in a variety of liturgical services and community awareness raising events.

Italy’s bishops have decided that their National Day of Prayer will coincide with the European Day for the Protection of Minors against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse established by the Council of Europe in 2015.

Various materials have been prepared that can be downloaded from the CEI website and used in the dioceses and parishes: a leaflet; a proposal for universal prayer; an adaptable scheme for a parish or diocesan prayer vigil; other prayers from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“We are invited to prayer,” emphasizes Msgr. Ghizzoni, “to support the paths of human and spiritual recovery of victims and survivors, by whomever they have been injured, so severely, inside or outside the Church, for families and communities affected by grief for their loved ones.”