CATHOLICS from seven parishes in Brisbane’s west have acknowledged the Church’s failing of survivors of sexual abuse during a moving healing liturgy in Kenmore.
Parishioners from the Brisbane West deanery, which incorporates the parishes of Corinda Graceville, Darra Jindalee, Inala, Indooroopilly, Kenmore, St Lucia and Toowong, gathered at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Kenmore, on October 23 to acknowledge “the hurt and injuries inflicted upon the innocent” by members of the Church.
Brisbane West dean Fr Mark Franklin led the liturgy, which was an adaptation of the Archdiocese of Dublin’s Liturgy of Lament and Repentance for the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious.
Fr Franklin said he had adapted the liturgy for his previous parish in Noosa and recently discerned the need for the Brisbane West community to “acknowledge before God and before our brothers and sisters that we had failed as a Church”.
“Protecting our most vulnerable is not a part-time or stop-gap measure; we as a Church have broken that trust and we must now continue to work on healing and restoring people’s faith in us until this evil has been eradicated,” he said.
“We are all responsible for what’s happened.”
Within the liturgy, the congregation was reminded of St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he speaks of the Church as one body of Christ.
Fr Franklin said if any part of the body was hurting, then the whole Church hurts with it.
Lay leaders read a litany of lament and repentance to pray for forgiveness and healing, particularly for those who were abused by members of the Church, those who were negligent or indifferent to victims, and that abusers would sincerely repent of their deplorable actions.
The liturgy included the lighting of a special candle symbolising Christ’s light and hope.
On the face of a candle is a cross with a vine and flowing water to represent Christ’s sacrificial love on the cross and new growth from the “ashes of our failures” and the uniting waters of baptism.
The candle will remain in the Kenmore church as a reminder to pray for survivors and their families and to uphold the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in the archdiocese and wider community.
Fr Franklin said other parishes or safeguarding officers within Brisbane archdiocese who wished to hold a similar liturgy could contact the Kenmore parish for a template.
The liturgy will be held again in the Brisbane West deanery next year at St Catherine’s worship centre, Moggill.