It is in that same spirit that I express repentance for the sins of the members of the church who have harmed others. Sometimes these harms were evil in themselves, such as the sins of racism and the sexual abuse of minors, as well as other forms of unchastity. At other times, the harms may have been done in the context of actions that were in themselves not sinful and may even have been necessary for pastoral or economic reasons, such as the closing of a church or school, but nevertheless were done in a way that was insensitive to the feelings of those who would be affected.
Therefore we pray for all those who have been harmed, that with God's grace they may be able to forgive, since it is through forgiveness of those who have harmed them that they will begin to experience God's healing and come to a place of peace in their relationships with God and with others. We pray for those who have perpetrated harm and have sinned against others, that they may recognize how they have hurt God, their victims and others who have been offended by their actions, and that God may administer justice tempered by his Divine Mercy.
Our repentance this month is not a Lenten penance, but an Advent preparation for the rebirth of a Christmas spirit in the church, a spirit that can celebrate anew the joy of Christian faith with the innocence of a small child. Dec. 12 is also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the image of our Blessed Mother that miraculously appeared on the cloak of Juan Diego, the Virgin Mary is depicted as being pregnant. As such, we join in Mary's joyful expectation and anticipation of the birth of her Son, that the presence of Jesus and His love may grow in our world, in our hearts, in our minds, in our words and in our deeds.
- Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois