New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have designated the first Friday of Lent next year as a day of prayer and penance for victims of abuse and violence in New Zealand. 

In 2017, this day will fall on March 3, the Friday after Ash Wednesday.

The president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Patrick Dunn, said New Zealand has an alarmingly high incidence of domestic violence. This day would acknowledge the impact of such abuse and violence, both by members of the Church family, but also everywhere it occurs throughout New Zealand.

NZ Catholic understands it is likely the first Friday of Lent will become a permanent day of prayer on this topic.

Bishop Dunn said Catholics often undertake devotions like the Stations of the Cross during Fridays in Lent, so the bishops’ conference thought that a Friday in Lent would be suitable.

It is likely that the bishops will ask the National Liturgy Office to assist, with others, in providing resources to parishes for this day.

In September, a press release from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors stated that Pope Francis had approved a universal day of prayer for survivors
of abuse.

But the Pope decided it would be up to individual bishops’ conferences to decide when that day should be in their own areas, as part of a Universal Day of Prayer initiative.

Several bishops’ conferences around the world already have specific days set aside for penance and prayer for victims and their healing.

The pontifical commission reportedly stated it has resources like prayers for Mass, liturgical texts and other materials available on request as part of the day of prayer
initiative.

An example of a simple prayer, based on material from the pontifical commission is:-

Heavenly Father, You love and care for all your children especially the smallest and
most vulnerable. We entrust to you the lives of the many children and vulnerable adults who have been abused, and whose trust and innocence have been destroyed. Help us to hear their cries of pain and to take responsibility for so many broken lives. 

We pray that within their communities and families they may find understanding and support so that with the help of your grace their wounds may be healed and they
may again know peace. 

Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who shared our weakness in all things but sin, and lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. 

Amen.

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