Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "We ask forgiveness for ourselves and for our clergy for having not done enough in recognising the physical, emotional and psychological pain and trauma which many victims of sexual abuse have suffered at the hands of family members, members of society at large and within our own church structures", write the Bishops of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) in their message in response to the appeal launched by Pope Francis to pray for the victims of sexual abuse.
The message announces three days of prayer, one of which will be a day of fasting. This will begin with Friday evening, 2 December and will end with the celebration of the Mass of the Second Sunday of Advent, on December 4.
The Bishops acknowledge "their errors in dealing with issues of sexual abuse especially when we have failed to listen to the cry of those abused within our own church structures and our failure to empathise with their pain".
"We want to work - the statement continues - with all structures in society and especially with our priests, church personnel and church workers in creating a safe environment for children and vulnerable people and in meeting the demands of justice in redressing the crimes and failures of the past regarding sexual abuse".
"We commit ourselves to following the provisions
in our own church protocols for the investigation of sexual abuse within our church structures and adherence to the law of the land when crimes have been committed", the Bishops conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 30/11/2016)