Bishop David Zubik kicked off the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese’s Year of Repentance Sunday.
The special holy hour at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland followed the first of four Ember Days, or periods over the next year meant for clergy to fast and pray for the purification of the church. Parishioners are also invited to participate.
Zubik called for the Year of Repentance in response to a grand jury report alleging mass sexual abuse within the church and a systematic cover up by leadership.
During his homily Sunday, Zubik told the roughly 100 parishioners in attendance, including the current class of seminarians that, “I know so many of you, so many of us are sharing the experience that Jesus had on the cross. Feeling betrayed by an offender who baptized you, married you, inspired you, heard your confession, or supported you in your vocation to the priesthood. Or maybe feeling betrayed by me or other leaders in the church.”
He expressed that he wished he had acknowledged the church's handling of abuse sooner.
“I am sorry, and not just for the mistakes of the church and her leaders,” said Zubik. “But for any mistakes this well intentioned leader has done. For the times I could have done more. For the times I could have said more.”
After the service, Parishioner Philip Ignelzi said he appreciates the bishop’s efforts.
“I think it shows the bishop’s good will that he has great love for these people who were unjustly hurt, while at the same time trying to make the proper changes so that this never happens again,” he said
Last week, Zubik joined with all Pennsylvania bishops co-signing a statement proposing a survivors’ compensation fund. The state house is expected to consider legislation which would allow victims of decades-old child sexual abuse another chance to sue the church.
Survivors of abuse say such a fund is not enough and that its creation could protect church documents from court-ordered examination.