by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — As Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann prepares for the annual fall general assembly of U.S. bishops Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore, he will join other bishops in a week of prayer and penance.
Although this is specifically a prayer effort of the bishops, Archbishop Naumann invites all archdiocesan Catholics — clergy, religious and laity — to join him in praying for certain intentions.
In an Oct. 26 letter to all bishops, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, asked each U.S. bishop — active and retired — to join him in seven days of intensified prayer and reflection from Nov. 5-11, just prior to the fall general assembly.
“In addition, each bishop is asked to commit to some form of fasting or sacrifice during those seven days,” said Cardinal DiNardo.
Archbishop Naumann has already begun such a commitment.
In a column published in the Aug. 31 issue of The Leaven, Archbishop Naumann pledged that he would personally begin a strict discipline of fasting and abstinence on Wednesday and Friday of each week for the renewal and cleansing of the church.
Additionally, he pledged to offer one Mass and one rosary a week for the healing of victims of sexual abuse in the church. He will continue this regimen through the seven days, but will fast each of the days as well.
The U.S. bishops have three prayer intentions for the seven days:
- For the healing and support of all victims of clergy sexual abuse
- For the conversion and just punishment of the perpetrators and concealers of sexual abuse
- For the strength of the bishops to be holy shepherds in protecting and leading our sheep from all harm
In an earlier statement inviting the bishops to prayer and penance, the USCCB Administrative Committee said, “This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward, ‘be doers of the word and not hearers only’ (Jas 1:22).”
In a letter to archdiocesan priests, Archbishop Naumann said he would “appreciate your prayers for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all the bishops, especially during the general assembly, where we will be making critical decisions in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.”