Boston Auxiliary Bishop Calls for Day of Prayer and Penance

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by Anita Carey  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 30, 2018   

Bp. Robert Reed: 'The only things I know to do in the face of evil; prayer and penance'

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WAYLAND, Mass. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A number of bishops have personally committed to a day of public penance in reparation for the sins of the bishops. 

Bishop Robert Reed, an auxiliary bishop in archodiocese of Boston, announced in the Good Shepherd Parish bulletin Sunday that he is planning a full day of public penance for the scandals in the Church. 

On Monday, Sept. 24, Bp. Reed is planning to say the 9 a.m. Mass at Saint Ann Church. After Mass, he will expose the Blessed Sacrament and remain in adoration, praying and fasting until 9 a.m. the next morning where he will conclude with Mass. 

Writing that he finds himself "deeply disturbed," he noted, "I know the bishops must act decisively and that the action needs to be thorough, transparent, professional and in cooperation with competent laypeople." Bishop Reed explained he asked the question, "What can I do?"

"All I know is that I can pray and do penance," he said.


Bishop Reed will keep the church open during this time so that others can join him in prayer.

"In fact, I would welcome your presence as I do the only things I know to do in the face of evil; prayer and penance," he said.

Several other bishops have also called for holy hours. Bishop David Walkowiak of the diocese of Grand Rapids has called for a diocesan-wide holy hour on Sept. 19 for "the healing of survivors of sexual abuse, reparation for the sins of clergy and the restoration of hope for our Church." 

On Sept. 14, Bp. Robert Deeley of the diocese of Portland, Maine is planning "an opportunity for reparation for the sins and crimes of bishops in failing to protect our young." 

In a statement on the diocesan website, he noted there is "a great deal of anger from laity, priests and religious directed at bishops" who covered up sexual abuse of minors in the Church.

That anger is justified. 

"That anger is justified," he said. "I can think of nothing worse than this incomprehensible abuse and any attempt to cover it up."

He added, "As your bishop, I am doing penance for the failure of some bishops to act appropriately to protect young people and who have failed in reflecting the holiness and integrity demanded by the Gospel."

Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island's Bp. Thomas Tobin is also calling for a day of prayer on Sept. 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christ. He notes in his statement, he chose that date "as a reminder that from the immense suffering of the Cross came redemption and new life for the world."

Bishop Tobin is undertaking a 24-hour fast "in penance for my own faults and failures as a Christian, priest and bishop, as well as for the sins and failures of all priests and bishops related to the sexual abuse of minors," he wrote.

Earlier in August, Dawn Goldstein, assistant professor of dogmatic theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, wrote in the Catholic Herald that not one of the bishops' statements about the allegations against ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick took the initiative to make public acts of penance. 

Goldstein noted "the sins of shepherds have a particularly destructive impact upon the entire Church" and if "one bishop is guilty, the entire college owes reparation to God."

She said the reparation should be public and it should include the stated intention of "making reparation as a bishop on behalf of the apostolic college to which he belongs."

Elizabeth Scalia, The Anchoress blogger who first noted Bp. Reed's notice, said acts of public penance by both priests and bishops are "absolutely needed." She wrote that she is planning to send this notice to her bishop and others asking them to follow Reed's example to hold public penance during the month of September. 

Church Militant reached out to the archdiocese of Boston to see if Cdl. Sean O'Malley and the other three auxiliary bishops and two vicars are planning to join Bp. Reed in penance, but have not heard back by press time.  

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