Bishop David Zubik had already planned a service of apology for later this month, an outreach to people hurt by the Catholic Church in any way, when events of this week underscored how deep those wounds can go.
The service is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 21 at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland, which is the see, or bishop’s church, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Casting a long shadow on the service will be Tuesday’s release of a state grand jury report that said hundreds of children were raped, sodomized and otherwise abused by more than 50 priests and others associated with the church in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The report, which said two previous bishops routinely covered up abuse and did not report perpetrators to authorities, renewed attention to a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church worldwide in recent decades.
Bishop Zubik said this is the third time he has led such a service and the second time in Pittsburgh. The first was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s service of repentance in 2000 for the sins of Catholics over the previous millennium against Jews, indigenous people and others.
He held a similar service in 2009 and said another is called for given Pope Francis’ declaration of 2016 as a ”year of mercy.” The event takes place during Holy Week, the culmination of the penitential season of Lent.
He said the service is open to anyone, including victims of abuse and those hurt in other ways by the church.
“We know that the church as the body of Christ is divine, but we also know that the church is also very human,” Bishop Zubik said. It’s an opportunity for him to say, “I am sorry.”
Peter Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.
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