Bishop David Zubik has called for a “Year of Repentance” beginning later this month in response to the “sinful actions of the members of our own ranks of the clergy” in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The call comes nearly a month after the release of a report by a statewide grand jury, identifying more than 90 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh who have been accused of sexual abuse in the past seven decades. The report, which spanned six Pennsylvania dioceses, also accused bishops of enabling abusers by covering up their crimes.
The first main event of the year will be a solemn prayer service at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland on Sept. 23. Other parishes can follow suit, Bishop Zubik said in a letter sent Monday to priests.
“We have been taught from our earliest years as Catholic Christians to ask forgiveness from both God and neighbor,” Bishop Zubik wrote. “Faced with the sinful actions of the members of our own ranks of the clergy, who are called to manifest the example of Christ, we feel both shame and sorrow, and are reminded of our own sinfulness and the need for mercy.”
Bishop Zubik based his call on an appeal by Pope Francis, in an Aug. 20 letter responding to the Pennsylvania grand jury report, to respond with penitential acts of prayer.
He is asking for clergy to fast and pray particularly on “ember days,” or four sets of three days throughout the church calendar that are typically set aside for such penitential acts