Holy Hour is first step to moving forward as a church

Thursday, October 04, 2018 - Updated: 9:53 am

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

Bishop David Zubik said the Holy Hour for Repentance was convened so the faithful could open their hearts to those affected the most by the clergy abuse scandal — the victims and survivors whose lives and spirit were robbed by “thieves” who stole their trust and so much more.

The first step of moving into the future as a church, he noted, is to repent. It is something that he needs to do, not just with words from his lips, but with his heart, the bishop said.

“I am sorry,” he said during the Sept. 23 gathering at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. “And not just for the mistakes of the church and her leaders, but for any mistakes this well-intentioned leader has done. For the times I could have done more. For the times I could have said more. I only wish that hindsight would have caught up with me sooner than it did.”

Steps must be taken, Bishop Zubik added, to address changes that must take place in the church and in everyone’s lives so that abuse will never happen again in any church, by any priest, or in any place by any person. Steps also must be taken to listen to one another with open hearts, he said. The bishop reiterated his personal commitment to be an active listener in the weeks ahead in the various regions of the diocese.

“Listening especially to you and to our brother priests,” he said.

In observing the prayer and fasting that comes with repentance, the bishop noted that it will help the church focus on what it needs to do — to create a new feeling of healing, trust and what it means to be a family of the church. 

The bishop related what Jesus must have experienced while he was on the cross. As he looked out at those before him, Bishop Zubik said, Jesus saw those who loved him. And yet, the soldiers, elders and other bystanders could not have cared less about him. What a lonely struggle of despair and betrayal Jesus must have felt.

As he looked down from the pulpit of the cathedral, the bishop said, he realized there were those in the congregation who shared the same experience.

“Feeling betrayed,” Bishop Zubik said. “By an offender who baptized you. Inspired you. Heard your confession, or supported you in your vocation to the priesthood.” Maybe that betrayal spread to him, or other leaders of the church, he added.

And yet the bishop noted that Jesus’ final words on the cross were not filled with despair, but with hope. Jesus realized that his act showed his love and care for others. In looking down on the apostle John and his mother, he passed on to them the responsibility to care for each other in their pain and loss.

“As you and I stand beneath the cross of Jesus, he wants to give us to each other to listen to, to embrace and heal each other’s pain,” Bishop Zubik said. “We are all God’s children.”

In this tragic and tender moment in our faith journey together, he added, we are called to see the cross as Jesus intends us to see it — a sign that charges us to break open our hearts to victims, to survivors, their families and beyond.

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