Cardinal George celebrates Mass of Atonement for clergy abuse
Cardinal Francis George celebrated a Mass of Atonement and Hope Saturday at Holy Family Church in Chicago to promote healing for child and youth sexual abuse survivors, their families and the Catholic Church.
"As a clergy-abuse survivor, I consider this Mass to be striking a healthy balance by apologizing and acknowledging for abuse that happened in the past, but also for being thankful for all the hard work going into protecting children now in our Catholic Schools and parishes," said Mike Hoffman, one of the founders of a Healing Garden created in 2010 adjacent to the church. "This event is a very healthy way to do that."
The Mass was attended by clergy, victims-survivors, family members of survivors, Catholic School leadership and others committed to the protection and safety of children.
"What I thought was powerful was the fact that the Mass was all about children and the survivors and there was no talk about the perpetrators," said Tom McCarthy of Hanover Park. "It was all about praying for atonement and for the children."
The event was sponsored by the Office for Assistance Ministry, established by the archdiocese in 1992 to respond to the sexual abuse of minors by archdiocesan clergy.
One of the first victim assistance ministries in the United States, it has provided services and support to more than 400 victims-survivors and their family members.
"Having been in Chicago for the past four years, coming from Baltimore, I have seen that the interest in anyone who has been abused by a priest is so important to the Cardinal," said Sister Loretta Rosendale of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She is executive director of Corazón a Corazón, which offers programs to Latino women and children in Chicago. "To have this mass, to invite people, to have the Healing Garden, all says something really important. I loved being here."
The concept of the garden came from clergy abuse victims-survivors, priests and Office for the Protection of Children and Youth staff members, and was approved by Cardinal George. A focal point is the sculpture, Circle of Love, depicting the Holy Family.