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Bishop slates day of prayer, penance

PORTLAND, Maine — Bishop Robert P. Deeley has designated Friday, March 3, 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 environment for children.

Priests throughout the diocese are encouraged to offer Masses on March 3 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. The bishop will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

“We will come together during Lent, the church’s season for repentance and reconciliation, to be mindful of the terrible harm that has been done by the sexual abuse of minors by clerics in the church,” said Bishop Deeley. “It is also an opportunity to pray for all those who have been harmed by sexual abuse. This day is done each year so that we can continually remind ourselves of the gravity of the harm done and the resolve we have made to be vigilant in our efforts to make the Church a safe environment for children and all those who seek in the Church a place to draw near to God.”

The diocese created the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. An independent, on-site audit conducted in 2016 found the diocese in full compliance with the charter, which mandates that any representative of the church who sexually abuses a minor be permanently removed from ministry. It also calls for the reporting of all complaints to civil authorities, thorough investigations of all complaints, and reimbursement of therapy for victims/survivors.

Since 2002, more than 14,000 Catholic Church employees, volunteers, priests and educators in Maine who work with children have completed a safe environment program, which includes mandatory background checks.

Anyone who may have information about any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a church representative should contact civil authorities and Michael Magalski, director of the office of professional responsibility for the diocese, at (207) 321-7836 or at michael.magalski@portlanddiocese.org.

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