Bishop Felipe Estévez is calling on the faithful of the Diocese of St. Augustine to join him in a solemn time of prayer and fasting on Sept. 14 (feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) and Sept. 15 (feast of Our Lady of Sorrows) in response to the tragic and abhorrent news concerning clergy sexual abuse, particularly in the United States.

“Both days give all the faithful – clergy and laity – a time of grace to turn to God and implore his divine assistance in this plight that our Church is now facing,” said Bishop Estévez.

Bishop Estévez has asked pastors to celebrate an extra Mass in the late afternoon or early evening on Sept. 14, inviting people to fast during the day and, as the long tradition of our Church used to observe, to “break the fast” with the celebration of Mass and reception of Holy Communion on Friday evening.

On Sept. 15, Bishop Estévez has asked that the people of God turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows to unite as a family to pray the rosary at noon in their parish, if possible.

“Our Lord’s Mother, the New Eve, is the one who will assist in crushing the serpent (cf. Gen 3:15). Let us call upon her never-failing intercession for God’s children, especially for the victims of these heinous acts, that God’s healing grace will be theirs in abundance.

“We have work to do as a diocese and within the larger Church in our country to address the systemic issues that continue to plague many who have been and continue to be victims of clergy sexual abuse,” said Bishop Estévez. Adding, “We also know that our culture continues to be afflicted by others who perpetrate sexual crimes and abuses upon others. Together, in prayer and fasting, as Pope Francis called for in his Letter to the People of God on August 20, may we ‘come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel.’”

Catholics are asked to check with their parish community for the time of Mass on Sept. 14 and the recitation of the rosary on Sept. 15.