Bishops in Japan set day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse by clergy
Catholic bishops in Japan have dedicated the second Friday of Lent as a Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse.
Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, has requested Catholics to join in prayers for the victims and survivors of sex abuse on March 18, ucanews.com reported.
Kikuchi said that in recent years cases of sexual abuse by clergy have been reported in churches around the world, and investigations reveal that many similar cases existed way back in the past.
“In addition, it has become clear that among these acts by the clergy include sexual abuse committed against minors who should be protected. The church in Japan is no exception,” said the prelate, secretary-general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
“Moreover, there have been several reports of cases in which bishops and superiors of religious congregations have tried to cover up the facts.”
Kikuchi pointed out that Pope Francis has called on the universal church “not to turn away from these realities” and over the past few years has made an appeal to come up with a system that will address these concerns.
The prelate explained that the Archdiocese of Tokyo has already established a committee to respond and make initial contact in such cases.
“But we commit ourselves that we shall continue to make efforts to further improve the system,” he said, acknowledging that “the establishment of a system does not assure that everything will be solved.”
The archbishop added that it is necessary to implement activities correctly and appropriately to enhance the system. And it is important that we do everything to restore the dignity of the victims, he said.
Kikuchi also issued an apology for clergy sexual abuse, ucanews.com reported.
“Please accept my heartfelt apologies for the acts committed by the clergy who are supposed to protect the dignity of life but did the exact opposite. In the Archdiocese of Tokyo, we renew our commitment to continue the work to protect the dignity of life for all people,” he said.
On March 20, a special Sunday Mass using the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation will be offered by Archbishop Kikuchi at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo.
In 2013, Japanese bishops published a revised set of guidelines for clergy sex abuse, the first of its kind in Asia, in response to the Vatican’s call to bishops’ conferences across the world.
Last year, Japanese bishops revised their Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults and posted them on the bishops’ conference website.
In April 2020, Japanese bishops, for the first time, published a report of an investigation they conducted on sex abuse in the church.