Church apology set via prayer service
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Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will hold a prayer service April 7 to apologize to anyone who has ever been hurt by someone acting in the name of the Catholic Church.
"If you have been harmed by the church in any way, I invite you to come. There will be nothing expected of you but your willingness to pray with me. No one will bother you," Bishop Zubik wrote in his column in the Pittsburgh Catholic. The service will be held at 7 p.m. in St. Paul Cathedral on Tuesday of Holy Week.
Although most publicity about people hurt in the Catholic Church has centered on those who suffered sexual abuse, many other concerns also will be addressed in the prayer service. Bishop Zubik's column mentioned people who have been spoken to harshly by church leaders, who felt they were unjustly let go from a church position or felt picked on by a teacher in a religious education class.
He spoke of a man who approached him recently who was upset that the bishop had not responded to a letter he had written.
"I had no recollection of the matter nor any recollection that the letter ever arrived. But that really didn't matter as much as the fact that the writer was hurt. He felt ignored, even rejected," the bishop wrote.
"Unfortunately, I am sure there were times where my actions or words were the cause of hurt."
The service is a first for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, although Bishop Zubik held a similar one in Wisconsin in 2006, when he was bishop of Green Bay. Both were inspired by the example of the late Pope John Paul II, who apologized many times for actions of church leaders who had hurt people throughout the ages. About 300 people attended the service in Green Bay.
"Some of the people who came were very much touched by it and felt some healing, although others didn't find that. But it was a chance to make an attempt at that," Bishop Zubik said.
It's not a forum where people will say aloud why they have come, but many of the reasons that people give for anger at the church will be addressed in the prayers and in his homily, Bishop Zubik said yesterday.
"It gives me a chance, as shepherd of the church during Holy Week, to say that if, in any way, any representative of the church has hurt you, I ask for your forgiveness," he said.
First Published March 13, 2009 12:03 am