Priests in Wellington archdiocese committed to prayer and fasting on October 5 following on from Pope Francis’ August request that the People of God pray and fast in order to hear the “hushed pain” of abuse survivors.
Wellington vicar general Msgr Gerard Burns told Radio New Zealand that the priests decided to take this action as a way of committing to a change of heart and a change in the Church structures which had allowed the abuse to take place.
Priests could give up things other than food, he added.
“Maybe some of the more challenging ways are to go without your iPhone for a
day, that might be even more taxing, but I think a simple way is to go without food.
“In this case the Pope asked us to particularly focus on the sufferings of those who’ve been abused — so it’s to try and put ourselves in some small way in solidarity with them.”
Abuse survivors reportedly called for victim-centred responses, practical help and accountability from the Church, rather than fasting.
Msgr Burns reportedly said he realised that, for abuse victims, a fast might not mean a lot.
“There needs to be more than just a fast. This is only a small step along the way, but the object is to try and focus our attention as priests on the importance of this question, the damage that’s been done, the significance of what’s happened.”