PORTLAND — Bishop Robert P. Deeley has designated Wednesday, March 12, as a diocesan-wide Day of Prayer and Penance to seek forgiveness for past harm while offering prayers for the healing of victims/survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The day will also reaffirm the Diocese of Portland’s continuing pledge to provide a safe and peaceful environment for children.

Deeley will celebrate Mass at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

“We will always need to be attentive, in a particular way, to those whose lives have been so hurt by the scandals which have harmed them and the Church,” said Deeley during the homily at his Mass of Installation on Feb. 14. “We will continue our efforts to support the survivors and all victims of abuse. And we will continue to work to see to it that the Church is a safe place for our children.”

On Wednesday, March 12, priests throughout the diocese will be encouraged to observe the Day of Prayer and Penance, especially by offering Masses that include prayers for victims/survivors of abuse for their healing; for perpetrators of abuse to seek and find repentance and justice; for diocesan clergy, employees and volunteers to serve with a spirit of respect and humility; and for families to create a safe, loving and peaceful environment for their children.

In 2002, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was implemented by the Catholic Church in the United States, mandating that any representative of the Church who sexually abuses a minor will be permanently removed from ministry. The Charter, which was revised in 2011 and is reviewed every two years, also calls for the reporting of all complaints to civil authorities, thorough investigations of all complaints, and reimbursement for therapy to victims/survivors. Since the implementation of the charter, more than 14,000 Church employees and volunteers (including all priests and educators) in Maine who work with children have been trained in a safe environment program and have gone through mandated background checks. An independent, on-site audit of safe environment procedures found the Diocese of Portland in full compliance with the Charter for the 2012/2013 audit period.

Deeley encourages anyone who may have information about any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a church representative to contact civil authorities and Michael Magalski, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Diocese of Portland, at 207-321-7836 or at [email protected]

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