Bishops 'Day of Atonement'

Evangelical Times [Ireland]
Downloaded May 6, 2004

Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland are considering a national 'day of atonement' to seek forgiveness for years of sexual abuse within their church. The day would follow the pattern of an event held by American bishops in 2002.

The action followed a public outcry over revelations that the church hierarchy covered up claims of abuse.

The bishops are considering a day of fasting and prayer; the placing of memorial stones and tree-planting in designated 'healing gardens'; and a televised national healing ceremony attended by church leaders, victims of abuse and their families.

Bishops would publicly do penance for the mishandling of clerical sex abuse. The Irish proposal has been discussed by bishops, who see it as a way to offer a definitive apology for decades of abuse by clerics.

However, there are reservations. One bishop expressed concern that some victims might perceive a day of atonement as 'an attempt by the bishops to "get off the hook"'.

Furthermore, no one seems to understand that by definition 'atonement' is something that has to be made, not just talked about, even by way of apology or 'penance'.


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