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April 23, 2002


Cardinal Bevilacqua is in Rome attending a meeting of Cardinals at the Vatican and in his absence, issued this statement regarding the day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia

The troubling and scandalous situation involving the sexual abuse of minors by some priests has distressed every member of the Catholic Church. We are grieved by the sin of a few which has had such a devastating effect on the emotional and spiritual lives of those who have been victimized. In calling for a Day of Atonement and Sanctification, it is my desire and the desire of every priest to pray for those who have been hurt by these heinous acts of abuse and in solidarity to acknowledge that no abuse of minors will be tolerated. It is our prayer that God's love and mercy will heal the victims, bring them peace of mind and heart, and grant them the strength to overcome the violation which they have suffered.

While it had been my intention to preside at this day of prayer, the request of the Holy Father for all U.S. Cardinals to meet with him in Rome inhibits my attendance at this special day of prayer. Nevertheless, I am united in mind and heart with my assistant bishops and priests as they gather in prayer to make atonement for the sins of those priests who are responsible for acts of abuse, to offer prayer and penance for the harm inflicted on victims, and to re-commit ourselves to live our priesthood faithfully and to grow in holiness. As priests, we are uniquely configured to Christ, the Good Shepherd. This Day of Atonement and Sanctification will afford us the opportunity to reflect once again on the dignity of the vocation to which we have been called and to reemphasize our promises to be ardent, gentle and caring shepherds who have at heart the spiritual well-being and holiness of every member of the flock entrusted to our care.

BACKGROUND: At Mass on Holy Thursday morning, March 28th, in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua invited all the priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to assemble at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary on Wednesday, April 24, 2002, for a Day of Atonement. The assembled priests will pray for victims of any kind of abuse, especially for their healing, for all the members of the Church which suffers whenever one of its members is hurt as well as for all priests.

Editor's Note: This is a private day for prayer for priests and is not open to the public or to the news media. There will be no admittance to Saint Charles Seminary. If you are interested in scheduling an interview with a priest at the conclusion of the Day of Atonement, please contact the Office for Communications at 215 - 587 - 3747.

Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

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