Archbishop Gregory to celebrate live streamed Mass April 3 for National Child Abuse Prevention Month
By Richard Szczepanowski
April 1, 2020
|Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory is shown celebrating Mass in his chapel for Sunday March 22, assisted by his priest secretary, Father Conrad Murphy. The archbishop will celebrate a live streamed Mass at noon on Friday April 3 to mark April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.|
Photo by Andrew Biraj
Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory will celebrate Mass April 3 at noon to mark April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
While not opened to the public, the Mass will be live streamed on the Archdiocese of Washington's Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/adw.org/) The direct link to the video is: https://www.facebook.com/adw.org/posts/3245631122121772.
Offered in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, the Mass was originally scheduled to be offered in the chapel at the conference's headquarters. But as Catholic agencies have closed their doors in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Archbishop Gregory will offer the Mass from his private chapel.
“We start this month in the midst of a public health crisis, but the archbishop understands that the Church has long been fighting its own crisis, and will not stop as we face this new crisis,” said Courtney Chase, the executive director of Child Protection and Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of Washington. “He wants the members of his community to know that not only must we protect our own health, we still have to protect and create a safe environment for all members of the community, especially our children.”
Chase noted that both crises – the coronavirus outbreak and child sexual abuse - “must be fought with the same determination and with the same goal in mind, to protect our people and eradicate this scourge.”
“Archbishop Gregory was not be deterred from celebrating this Mass,” Chase said. “He set up a camera in his own chapel so that all community members can join from their homes and pray together to support prevention of child abuse and to remember survivors and their family members.”
The Archdiocese of Washington has a Child Protection Policy that was instituted in 1986 as one of the first such policies in the nation and has been used as a model for dioceses nationwide. The policy – which covers healing, reporting and prevention of abuse – was updated in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2013 and 2019 to incorporate enhancements in child protection mandates and oversight.
Archbishop Gregory was installed as the archbishop of Washington in May 2019, two months before the archdiocese's revised Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy was issued. He has been a national leader in the Church’s efforts to address the abuse crisis. As the bishop of Belleville, Illinois in 2002, he served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and led the nation’s bishops in implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which included a “zero tolerance policy” on priests who abuse children.
“Archbishop Gregory is a true crusader in this,” Chase said. “From his days in leadership at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops until now, he continues to battle this on the frontline.”
Chase noted that the 2019 revisions to the archdiocesan policy included changing the title to Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy to reflect its expanded scope emphasizing the importance of ensuring safe environments for people of all ages, protecting children from sexual abuse and adults from sexual harassment or abuses of power.
The revised policy’s introduction makes that expanded scope clear, stating, “All people – children and adults – have the right to be safe and protected from harm in any and all environments – home, school, religious institutions, neighborhoods, and communities.”
The text of the revised Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy can be found online at https://adw.org/about-us/resources/child-protection/.
Key points include:
The policy requires mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and immediate removal of someone credibly accused of abuse.
The policy emphasizes transparency and pastoral care in abuse cases.
The policy requires that “all clergy, employees and volunteers who will come into contact with children while working or volunteering for any archdiocesan institution and/or program will undergo the relevant state and federal criminal background checks.”
The policy includes an educational component for children and youth, and also for adult staff members and volunteers, designed to help prevent abuse from happening.
The revised policy has an expanded scope emphasizing safe environments for adults working or volunteering in church ministries and outreach.
Chase urged the faithful to log onto the Facebook page to “attend” the Mass because “the community must come together because child sex abuse does not only wound the survivor and their families, it impacts and hurts the entire community as a while. This Mass unifies all the faithful in this battle.”
The U.S. bishops have made a prayer available that will be used during the Mass. The prayer can be found online at http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prayer-for-healing-victims-of-abuse.cfm.
The text of the prayer is as follows:
“God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by the blood of his cross.
“Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.
“Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.
“Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
Chase stressed that her office remains open “even in the midst of quarantine, social distancing and remotely working.”
“Child Protection and Safe Environment continues to run full steam ahead,” she said. “Any survivor or victim who is struggling with their own abuse – current or historic – is encouraged to reach out. The phone number is 301-853-5302.”