THE 2022 DAY OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:

THE 2022 DAY OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

The second Friday of Lent is designated in the Church in Japan as the “Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse.” It will be observed this year on Friday, 18th March.

In recent years, cases of sexual abuse by the clergy have been reported in churches around the world, and investigations reveal that many similar cases have already 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. Moreover, there have been several reports of cases in which bishops and superiors of religious congregations have tried to cover up the facts.

The Holy Father, coming from the perspective of protecting the dignity of life, 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 Archdiocese of Tokyo has already established a committee to respond and to make initial contact concerning such cases. But we commit ourselves that we shall continue to make efforts to further improve the system.

Certainly, the establishment of a system does not assure that everything will be solved. It is necessary to implement activities correctly and appropriately to enhance the system. And it most important that we do everything to restore the dignity of the victims.

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.

In the observance of the “Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse” in the Archdiocese of Tokyo this year, masses will be offered in the parishes according to the intentions of the Holy Father either on Friday, 18th March, or on the following Sunday, 20th March. Moreover, the “Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation” shall be used in the Holy Mass.

 In addition, the 10:00 am mass at the Catholic Sekiguchi Church on Sunday, 20th March, will be presided by the Archbishop, and will be offered for this intention.

Last year, the bishops of Japan revised the “Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults” and this can be found in the homepage of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan. These guidelines concern “everyone who is involved in the mission and pastoral care in the Church,” — that is, not only the priests and religious, but also all the staff and volunteers who serve in Church-related facilities. I appeal to all of you, brothers and sisters, that this concern is a matter affecting each one of us in the Church community, and so let us think, pray, and act together on this issue as our own.

For the information of all, I have also sent out a message as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, a copy of which may be read below for your reference.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo

 

THE 2022 DAY OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

February 17, 2022

Dear Sister and Brother Catholics in Japan,

We who believe in God who has gifted us with life have a duty to protect the dignity of life. It goes without saying that the Church’s clergy are expected to be at the forefront in fulfilling that duty.

Unfortunately, there have been reports all over the world that clergy who should be examples have ignored and trampled the dignity of life by committing sexual abuse. It has become clear that among them there are some who have committed despicable acts of abuse against minors who should be protected. The Church in Japan is no exception.

In addition, for a long time there have been cases of bishops and other Church leaders around the world who had covered up these crimes.

Pope Francis has called on the whole Church to take this situation seriously, confess guilt, seek forgiveness, and do our best to restore the dignity of those affected by this issue caused by priests. In addition, he has instructed bishops around the world to set aside a special Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse. The Church of Japan has designated the second Friday of Lent as this day of prayer and penance. March 18 will be the 2022 Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse. 

Since 2002, the bishops of Japan have responded by establishing guidelines and establishing a Desk for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Women. Last December, we created Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, renewing our determination to fulfill our mission to protect minors entrusted to the Church in Japan. We will continue to review and develop the system to make it ever more effective.

The Church, which is now on the synodal path, aims to be a community of solidarity in which we listen to and support one another. We will work to make the Church in Japan a community that strives to protect the dignity of life.

There are many victims in the Church around the world. We confess the Church’s sins, including indifference and coverup. We pray that the victims will be healed by God’s loving embrace. At the same time, we clergy want to renew our faith commitment, pray in love, and act so that we do not repeat these sins.

Please pray with us bishops on or near the second Friday of Lent in accordance with the pope’s wish.

+ Isao Kikuchi, President
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan