Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bishop Zubik Issues Apology to Those Wounded by Church

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bishop Zubik Issues Apology to Those Wounded by Church

Article excerpt

There were no organ strains, no bursts of incense, only the sound of shoes echoing softly off the vast stone surfaces of St. Paul Cathedral as Bishop David Zubik paced down the center aisle with a small group of priests and acolytes bearing candles and a crucifix.

Once at the front, the Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh, clad in a purple robe symbolizing penance, prostrated himself in front of the altar for five silent minutes.

The somber entrance set the tone for what was to follow, a "Prayer Service of Apology" meant to seek forgiveness from anyone who has been wounded by the Catholic Church and its representatives.

Bishop Zubik had planned the service several weeks in advance, inspired by an ongoing "Year of Mercy" proclaimed by Pope Francis and also for Holy Week, the climactic period of the Lenten season of penitence.

But the service took on added gravity with a searing reminder of the crisis of sexual abuse in the church in a near neighbor, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Grand jury reports earlier this month cited more than 50 priests accused of sexually abusing hundreds of children, and three former leaders of a Hollidaysburg-based Franciscan province face rare criminal charges for allegedly endangering children by keeping a serial offender in ministry.

Through readings, litanies of prayers and other means, Bishop Zubik repeatedly offered apologies for anyone sexually, physically, emotionally or otherwise abused or hurt by someone in the church.

"We remember and apologize to children, youth and adults victimized by trusted clergy," a reader said in a candle-lighting ceremony. "We acknowledge their deep wounds. ... We acknowledge their courage in speaking the truth."

Other prayers asked for strength to "work for justice especially in any place where the church serves as employer" and to "examine attitudes and behaviors that in any way diminish the dignity of persons. …

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