.- Cardinal Justin Rigali has invited his local priests to join him Friday to listen to the accounts from victims of clergy sexual abuse.
A Philadelphia grand jury probe last year identified 63 archdiocesan priests as abusers since the 1950s. Seventeen of them have been defrocked and others have been relieved of pastoral duties.
In a press release, the cardinal-archbishop of Philadelphia said one of the most significant things he learned this past year is the importance of listening to victims convey the hurt, pain and suffering they experienced and which is still part of daily life for many of them.
The evening meeting, which has been titled “Witness to the Sorrow,” will be held on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.
Two victims of clergy sexual abuse and one parent of abuse victims will speak to the clergy, after which there will be a procession to Saint Martin's Chapel for evening prayer. Other victims and their families have also been invited to attend.
According to the Associated Press, the meeting was organized by a victim's advocate the archdiocese hired this year.
"For the last 10 months or more, the Church has been silent, very much at my suggestion, because we have to look inward," advocate Mary Achilles told the AP. "We have to straighten up our own house."
"This event on Friday is just a step," Achilles said. "It will not solve the problem. Its goal is simply for those who operate in the Church currently to witness the pain and suffering of victims."
The archdiocese wants to make the meeting as accessible to the wider community as possible. Live streaming video will be available at www.archdiocese-phl.org. The video will be available on the archdiocesan website following the event.