Towards Peace

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Resources for the Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Abuse

This year, candles will be lit in churches and cathedrals across the country as a reminder of the need for atonement and repentance; as well as the light of hope in such darkness. This prayerful initiative was first held in Irish dioceses in 2017 to support the paths of human and spiritual recovery, not only for victims and survivors of abuse, but also for their family members, friends and communities affected by grief for their loved ones.

The lighting of the ‘Candle of Atonement’ and the prayer are based on the Penitential Rite composed and prayed by Pope Francis at the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families on 26th August 2018 in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, when the Holy Father implored the Lord’s mercy for the crimes of abuse and asked for forgiveness.

All parishes and religious communities are encouraged to light a candle of atonement and to organise a service or moment of prayer. The blessing and dedication are available below.

Blessing and Dedication of the Candle of Atonement for the Cathedrals and Churches of Ireland

This blessing and dedication ritual can take the place of the Penitential Rite at Mass or can be used as a separate moment during other liturgies or prayer times, e.g. the Liturgy of the Hours.

Introduction by Celebrant

On this Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse, we acknowledge our sins and pause to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

During the Penitential Rite at the closing Mass for World Meeting of the Families, and reflecting on what survivors of abuse had told him, Pope Francis implored the Lord’s mercy for the crimes of abuse and asked forgiveness, as follows:

Pause for silent prayer

We ask forgiveness for the cases of abuse in Ireland, the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse on the part of representatives of the Church. In a special way, we ask forgiveness for all those abuses that took place in different kinds of institutions directed by men and women religious and other members of the Church. We also ask forgiveness for cases in which many minors were exploited for their labour.

Lord have mercy;

Lord have mercy.

We ask forgiveness for all those times when, as a Church, we did not offer to the survivors of any type of abuse, compassion and the pursuit of justice and truth by concrete actions. We ask forgiveness for some members of the hierarchy who took no responsibility for these painful situations and kept silent. We ask forgiveness.

Christ have mercy;

Christ have mercy.

We ask forgiveness for those children who were taken away from their mothers and for all those times when so many single mothers who tried to find their children that had been taken away, or those children who tried to find their mothers, were told that this was a mortal sin. It is not a mortal sin; it is the fourth commandment! We ask forgiveness.

Lord have mercy;

Lord have mercy.

May the Lord preserve and increase this sense of shame and repentance, and grant us the strength to ensure that it never happens again and that justice is done.







Lighting of the Candle of Atonement

We light this Candle of Atonement which shall burn in this cathedral (or church, community, home) with the prayer


Forgive us our many sins.

We grieve and repent with all our hearts for having offended you,

for our great failings and neglect of the young and vulnerable.

We place all of those who have been hurt by the Church in any way

into your loving hands and under the protection of Our Blessed Mother.

Lord, bring peace to their broken lives

and show us all the way out of darkness

and into the light of your Word.

May we as the people of God be more fully human,

more fully Christ-like and more fully your people,

that we may see the errors of the past

and go forward with renewed hope and faith

in Christ and in our Church.


The Healing Stone Prayer

The following text for prayer was sent to the former Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, by a person who suffered abuse so that it could be shared in parishes. This prayer was inscribed on the healing stone which was unveiled at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in 2012 and now has its permanent home at Lough Derg, Co Donegal. 

Lord, we are so sorry

for what some of us did to your children:

treated them so cruelly,

especially in their hour of need.

We have left them with a lifelong suffering.

This was not your plan for them or us.

Please help us to help them.

Guide us, Lord,


A Dhia, tá aiféal orainn

as ucht na rudaí a rinne cuid dúinn dod phaistí:

gur caitheadh leo chomh chrualach,

in am a gátar ach go háirithe.

Dfhágamar iad le cruatan saoil.

Níorbh é seo do scéim dóibh súid ná dúinne.

Cabhraigh linn le cabhair a thabhairt dóibh súid.

Treoraí sinn, a Thiarna,