Archbishop Robert Carlson will preside at a healing prayer service to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and to pray for healing and reconciliation and for the prevention of abuse. The service will be at 7 p.m Thursday, Dec. 20, at St. Luke the Evangelist Church, 7230 Dale Avenue in Richmond Heights.
The charter is a set of procedures established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
All who are victims/survivors of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse by anyone -- clergy, family, friends, co-workers or strangers -- are invited to attend the prayer service. In addition, family members and friends of survivors are encouraged to participate, as well as those who are involved in helping abused people and those who work to prevent abuse.
Another prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Queen of All Saints Church, 6603 Christopher Drive in Oakville.
The services are being held as Pope Benedict XVI has called Catholics to deeper conversion during the Year of Faith.
The archdiocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection in collaboration with the Safe Environment Program and the Office of Sacred Worship are organizing and sponsoring the healing prayer services.
Last year, in a letter on the report on the causes and context of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy requested by the U.S. bishops, Archbishop Carlson called child abuse an unspeakable evil that must be addressed forthrightly in order to protect children.
On behalf of all the clergy, religious and faithful people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, he apologized to "anyone who has been abused by a priest, deacon, religious, employee or volunteer associated with one of our parishes, schools, agencies or institutions in this archdiocese. No words of mine can ever heal wounds caused by abuse, but I do want to assure you of our unshakeable commitment to protect our children and to ensure that Church institutions and facilities are safe environments for minors."