Catholic young adults pray for survivors of clergy abuse, wounded church

Catholic News Service

August 28, 2018

By Matthew Davis

As the sun set Aug. 20, about 120 Catholics gathered on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul to pray for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and for a cleansing of the Catholic Church.

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Among them was Pennsylvania native Corey Furdock, for whom the grand jury report issued Aug. 14 detailing clergy sexual abuse claims in that state hit especially close to home.

“My childhood priest was on the list, and it [abuse] was speculated back when he was removed in 2006. He just kind of disappeared,” said Furdock, 27, a parishioner of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

“It’s been really difficult,” he added. “Here, it’s a national headline that I think everyone can grieve [about], but being from there, having that relationship to the church … it’s painful.”

The prayer vigil included evening prayer from the church’s Liturgy of the Hours and petitions related to abuse survivors and the scandal.

Many attendees held candles. Most were in their 20s and 30s and came from parishes across the Twin Cities.

A group of young adult Catholics has been meeting for informal discussions in the wake of recent clergy sexual abuse revelations, including the Pennsylvania report, credible allegations of abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and accusations of sexual harassment against a former vocations director in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, who died in 2008.

Those gatherings led a few attendees to organize the Aug. 20 vigil, after discussions sparked a desire to bring people together to pray for the abuse victims and the church.

They spread news of the event by word-of-mouth and social media. “We don’t know where to begin. So join us for evening prayer and intercessions,” began the Facebook invitation. “It will be a simple evening on the steps of the cathedral to pray for the Lord’s healing, mercy, justice to be made present in these dark times. It is also an opportunity for us, as young adults, to band together and not be swayed by the evil that is so clearly present.”

“The fact that there were so many people here, I think is a really huge sign of hope that people haven’t become so bitter that they don’t want to pray for the church anymore,” said Jenny Lippert, 26, a parishioner of St. Paul in Ham Lake, about the vigil.

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