“Abuse can break your heart and destroy your spirit,” says Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The church leader released a video message ahead of the February 19 Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse. In 2016, the church in Ireland welcomed the call of Pope Francis to establish national annual Days of Prayer and chose the First Friday of Lent.
Nationwide liturgies of prayer and atonement are taking place.
In his message the Archbishop reflects on what he has learned from active listening to people who have been abused and their families throughout his ministry as a priest and as a bishop:
“Some have spoken about their devastation that when they did come forward to the Church there were failures to listen to them to take them seriously or to stop their abuser harming others. No wonder so many people who have been abused find it very difficult to trust the church”.
Archbishop Martin affirms that people who have been abused “need to hear from Church leaders …that we realise the harm that has been done to them, that we are sorry for that and we want to atone”.
He concludes: “It’s important for these dear people [who have been abused] to know that they are part of the body of Christ, they are today and they always have been. So whenever we pray for those who have been abused we are letting them know that they are important to us.”