Scranton Diocese Calls for Day of Atonement in Response to Grand Jury Report

SCRANTON, Pa. -- The leader of the Diocese of Scranton has asked Catholics to take part in a day of atonement and healing.

That goes for parishes across northeastern and central Pennsylvania and includes a day of fasting.

At a special Mass on Saturday, Bishop Joseph Bambera apologized to the victims and their families. He also apologized to parishioners whose faith has been challenged since the revelations that the church systematically covered up the abuse for decades.

It was silent as clergy entered the auditorium of the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Scranton. The silence continued as Bishop Bambera prayed for victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church.

It has been a month since the release of the grand jury report that accuses nearly 60 priests in the Diocese of Scranton of sexual misconduct. Hundreds more across the state were also accused in that report.

Bishop Bambera invited parishioners to join him in a Mass for atonement and healing in light of the report's release.

"We have been up against in the last month a real time of struggle and pain. A time that clearly reflects the brokeness of our world and of our lives and of people who should have been trusted, church leaders in particular," Bambera said.

Bambera says this Mass is an important step in asking for forgiveness from parishioners, but the church will be looking to make changes to avoid abuse of any kind in the future.

"The church agrees with so many of the recommendations of the grand jury report. With regard to the statute of limitations, we are looking at all sorts of options to respond to the needs of victims. Clearly, we need to be responsive to victims," Bambera said.

Parishioners who attended the Mass tell Newswatch 16 their faith has been shaken in the month since the release of the grand jury report, but it has not been shattered.

"That collar I will always respect, but that man in the collar has to earn my respect. And I think that goes for now. Now, we have to wait and see how those collars are going to be," said Theresa Baux of west Scranton.

Baux says her faith is strong. She hopes the same goes for her fellow parishioners as the church faces dark times.

"It's going to have to be ongoing. It's a repentance that I don't think is ever going to come to an end. I mean, this is a very deep crisis in the church."

Bambera says since the grand jury report came out, roughly 30 more alleged victims have come forward accusing many priests already listed in the report.

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