SCRANTON – As he acknowledged and again apologized for the pain of survivors of sexual abuse on April 8, 2021, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera recommitted to creating safe environments across the Diocese of Scranton.
“I pledge to continue to do all within my power to keep our Churches and schools safe for our children and for all of our people to worship, to pray, to learn and to grow in their faith,” Bishop Bambera said.
The bishop’s pledge came during a Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse held at 12:10 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter. During the Mass, the bishop prayed for God’s healing and peace for all survivors of sexual abuse and particularly for those abused by members of the clergy and Church workers.
“While we have celebrated this Mass in a very public way for three years now, it is more vital today than ever that we continue to pray for survivors of abuse. Why? Because there is still pain,” the bishop said. “A few years of public prayer can’t change a lifetime of suffering. So many survivors continue to be burdened by nightmares of inhuman behavior on the part of those who should have been trustworthy but were not.”
Since his ordination, Bishop Bambera has met with numerous survivors of abuse who have shared their pain and taught him great lessons.
“They’ve taught me that if the Church is truly intent upon creating safe environments for its children and all of God’s people, the Church – and especially Church leaders – must never forget or allow time to numb us to the pain that was so willfully inflicted on innocent lives by those who postured themselves as God’s representatives and ministers of his love and mercy,” the bishop explained.
The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to recognize the importance of families in communities working together to prevent child mistreatment.
The Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse took place on the Thursday in the Octave of Easter. During the Easter Octave, the Church celebrates Jesus’ victory over suffering and death through the Resurrection. As the bishop reminded the faithful, there was overwhelming pain after Jesus’ death.
“Today’s scripture passages remind us of the pain and suffering so unfairly inflicted upon Jesus – a good, innocent, loving presence consumed by a broken, sinful world. They also remind us, however, that sin and death did not have the final word in Jesus’ experience,” the bishop said. “God overcame the powers of evil and raised Jesus from the dead. We who gather in his name at this time of prayer are ‘witnesses’ to the saving, healing presence of God, not just in Jesus’ life, but in our world and in our lives as well.”
In moments of desperation, the bishop said faith can help all of us come to understand how God works.
“When we have nowhere else to turn – when we’re no longer capable of fixing the things that have gone awry in our lives – God is finally given room to step into our lives and to carry us when we can no longer walk on our own,” he explained.
As he ended his homily, the bishop again asked for healing.
“May the risen Jesus heal us of our pain, fill us with His love and strengthen us to walk together in faith and so reflect His life and love to a world so desperately in need of it,” Bishop Bambera said.
To read Bishop Bambera’s full homily from the Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse on April 8, visit dioceseofscranton.org.