Easter blessings! Our celebration of Easter continues until the feast of Pentecost (this year, June 5), and I pray it is a time of grace for all of you.
Synod 2021-2023 for a Synodal Church
It’s not too late to RSVP to attend our special event this Saturday to conclude the worldwide Synod in the Diocese of Fall River. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth. I will begin the morning with the celebration of Mass, and we will continue after that with a program designed to provide an opportunity to discuss and reflect on trending themes, concerns, and highlights of the Synodal Journey here in our Diocese of Fall River. It’s open to all parish ambassadors and those who participated in parish consultation sessions. Please register to attend through this link: http://bit.ly/Synod23
Child Abuse Prevention Month
As you likely know, since the launch of the Synod last fall these parish consultations have taken place to bring together the faithful to answer fundamental questions about how we experience “journeying together” as a Church and how the Holy Spirit is inviting our communities to grow and reach beyond the walls of our churches.
I am grateful for this process and for all who have given voice to their experience. I am mindful, however, that there are many voices we do not hear. There are brothers and sisters who have been so wounded by the Church that they no longer feel welcome. This is made clear in the Synod of Bishops Preparatory Document in its reference to Pope Francis’ 2018 Letter to the People of God:
“…we cannot forget the suffering experienced by minors and vulnerable people ‘due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.’ We are continually challenged ‘as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.’ For too long the cry of the victims has been a cry that the Church has not been able to hear sufficiently. These are deep wounds that are difficult to heal, for which forgiveness can never be asked for enough and which constitute obstacles, sometimes imposing ones, to advancing in the direction of ‘journeying together.’”
April is both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As a Church, we must continue to atone for the harm done by those in whom great trust was placed and who betrayed that sacred trust. We must not be complacent and assume this is a problem of the past. Those involved in our Safe Environment Enterprise work diligently to create a culture of protection throughout our Diocese. Their task and our mission are to prevent abuse from occurring today, to educate those in our parishes and schools about warning signs of abuse, and to journey with those who have been harmed. We can all join this mission by being vigilant in our care of children and compassionate in our communications, knowing that those who have suffered abuse in the past may be in our midst.
Please join me as we pray for the healing and protection of all children and vulnerable adults next Thursday, April 28, at noon in the chapel at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River. The service will be livestreamed on the Diocese of Fall River Facebook page.
You can learn more about Child Abuse Prevention Month by visiting this special webpage created by our Safe Environment Office.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha