During a recent priest assembly in our diocese I promised to propose actions that I would like us as a Diocesan Church to take up beginning immediately to guide our local response to the scandals surrounding the sexual abuse of children by priests and bishops and the subsequent failure to respond appropriately by some bishops.
Certainly programs and protocols will be important and I refer to some of those here, but as always our most potent weapon against evil is prayer and the deeper conversion of our own hearts. That is the primary goal of many of these actions.
With the help of prayer and penance we can also move forward our efforts to become more transparent signs of the presence of the Lord in our midst. These efforts will complement our work locally to improve our assistance for victims, to create a safer environment for all our members and to provide better protocols for the reporting of abuse by any member of the clergy, including bishops.
I would like to share with you the People of God of the Diocese of El Paso these actions that I am asking the entire Church of El Paso to undertake:
1. Fasting on Fridays for the healing of victims of abuse (exception could be made for feasts that fall on Friday, Christmas and Easter)
2. A Rosary should be said in every parish at least once a week for victims of abuse. Priests and deacons should lead or participate unless otherwise prevented by their schedule.
3. A petition for the victims of sexual abuse in the Church should be included in every Sunday Liturgy.
4. Each parish should recommit itself to the full implementation of VIRTUS Safe Environment Program.
5. Parish communities are encouraged to plan other prayer actions along these lines such as holy hours, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, novenas or the like.
6. Every priest and deacon should see this as a call to strengthen his own personal prayer life so that he can remain faithful to his calling and be a more transparent sign of God’s presence.
I will appreciate your support at the parish and diocesan level as individuals and through the various Church-based organizations to which you belong to assist us in implementing these actions and even challenging us to go beyond them in the service of God and His people.
Please pray for me and for all our priests and deacons, as well as all those called to leadership in the Church.
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Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz