Rigali Holds Special Service for Sex Abuse Victims

By Dan Stamm
|  Friday, Mar 11, 2011  |  Updated 11:43 PM EDT
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NBCPhiladelphia.com - Rosemary Connors

Cardinal Justin Rigali holds a service for victims of sexual abuse.

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The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has come under intense heat in recent weeks following the release of a grand jury report that exposed allegations of sexual abuse against children within the church and by some clergy.

Earlier this week, 21 priests were suspended amidst allegations of misdeeds within the Catholic Church.

On Friday night the church reached out to try and heal the wounds of child abuse with a special Stations of the Cross service at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City.

"We remember once again, the grave offense to God and the great harm to innocent victims of the evil of sexual abuse of minors, especially by members of the clergy," said Cardinal Justin Rigali at the service.

In a letter sent to various catholic churches before the service Rigali spoke more in depth about the need for forgiving prayer.

“We will pray for forgiveness of all sins and for reconciliation with God and in the community. In our petition we will ask for the healing of all victims, that through the power of God's grace sexual abuse will be prevented, and that young people will always be respected and protected and be able to live the full measure of their human dignity as children of God without being abused by anyone.”

Rigali asked God for forgiveness Friday night.

"As I express in the name of the Archdiocese renewed sorrow for this evil afflicted on children and young people, I ask God to forgive those who have committed this sin," he said.

Some of those victims participated in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a candlelight vigil outside the Basilica while the service happened inside. SNAP held the vigil for all the victims of sex abuse at the hands of clergy members, they said.


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