LA Catholics are called to “unite together in prayer” this April to commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Safeguard the Children Office is spearheading a monthlong initiative to raise awareness of child sex abuse and the fight to eradicate it this April.
“The goals for our initiatives are to shine a light on all we are doing already to protect children, prevent abuse, and support those harmed, to invite people to get involved, and to pray for all those impacted directly and indirectly by child abuse,” said the archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Ministry Coordinator Heather Banis.
Every parish in the archdiocese will receive a “United Together in Prayer” gift kit, which includes a candle to symbolize the light Banis refers to — and parishes are invited to light them throughout the month as a reminder to parishioners of the ongoing fight against abuse, and their part in it. The kit also includes special petitions to be read at Masses in April, focused on praying for abuse survivors and those who work with them.
Safeguard the Children and the Victims Assistance Ministry is also coordinating a Novena for Healing for all those harmed by abuse, from April 22-30. Each regional bishop will lead one night of prayer, along with the seminarians at St. John’s Seminary and various parishes around the archdiocese.
“Since most victim-survivors were harmed by someone known and trusted, it is especially important that we embrace our shared responsibility for protecting all from sexual abuse,” Banis told Angelus. “The Safeguard the Children Child Abuse Prevention materials offer many ways for families to engage, learn new skills and strategies, and become a part of the safety network in our church and in our communities.”
These initiatives, Banis said, are a “living testimony to the church’s ongoing transformation in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse phenomenon.”