Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass for Healing for Survivors of Abuse

Child protection is a responsibility for all as matter of charity and justice.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington was the celebrant and homilist at a Mass for Healing at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Tuesday evening to pray for survivors of abuse. The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Barry C. Knestout, auxiliary bishop of Washington and the priests of the cathedral. “Our efforts to combat child abuse begin with ourselves, with our own families in our own homes, including our spiritual family,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily.

The cardinal reflected upon the significance of the Mass to the day’s Gospel reading, where Peter and Judas’s human weaknesses are revealed, and “we are, once again, reminded of the need, the constant need for God’s grace God’s healing, as we also experience betrayal, failure and all the of the pain and sorrow that is a part of that. It is within this context that it seems all the more appropriate to reflect on the issue that has now become a part of our annual remembrance,” said the cardinal.

“In this week when we liturgically recall betrayal and consequent suffering, so we turn our attention to a manifestation of it in the form of child abuse and steps we must take to avoid it and heal it where it has occurred,” the cardinal said. “Children are truly a gift. Yet, as with all else in this fallen world, young people are subject to the human condition.”

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and government agencies, community groups, and churches are encouraged to work together to share child abuse and neglect prevention strategies and promote the well-being of children and families. “This responsibility belongs to everyone as a matter of charity and justice, and the Archdiocese of Washington is strongly committed to child safety in the Church and throughout society,” said the cardinal. He then spoke of the archdiocese’s long-time practice of pro-actively protecting children.

Since 1986, the Archdiocese of Washington has had a stringent child protection policy, one of the most comprehensive of any organization– public or private – in Maryland or the D.C. that is entrusted with the care of children. The Child Protection Policy of the Archdiocese of Washington mandates criminal background checks, applications and education for all employees and volunteers who work with young people. The policy also mandates an employee or volunteer’s immediate removal from work or ministry following a credible allegation. A Child Protection Advisory Board of predominantly lay experts advises on and monitors compliance with child protection efforts.

“I am pleased to let you know that this archdiocese has also offered these polices, these safeguards, the fruit of our experience to our public schools and other secular entities and organizations. While they have not yet accepted the offer, we continue to work with them to see that the children are safe everywhere. Being the most vulnerable, our young people require us to care for them, they require us to be attentive to them, and this month simply calls our attention to that obligation.”

The cardinal concluded his homily by saying as we make our way through Holy Week to Good Friday and the price that Jesus paid for our redemption because of the failure of the human condition, we should remind ourselves that we are blessed to walk in his mercy, compassion, healing and forgiveness and be agents of that same healing in the world today.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the cardinal shared a statement that local faith leaders, working through the Washington interfaith community signed on Tuesday in support of the persecuted Coptic Christians in Egypt in the aftermath of the Palm Sunday church bombings.