Since 2018, the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of sexual abuse is marked on the First Friday of Lent.

The proposal for a universal day of prayer was initially made in 2016 to the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) by a survivor of clerical abuse. At the time a press release from the Commission stated, “In the experience of our members, victims/survivors have often expressed a desire for prayer as an important element in their healing process.”

In response Pope Francis invited bishops around the world to establish a special day of prayer in the Church year to support the paths of human and spiritual recovery. This day is not only for victims and survivors, who have been so severely injured, either inside or outside the Church, but also for families and communities affected by grief for their loved ones.

In 2019 the Irish Bishops introduced a Candle and Prayer of Atonement as part
of this day. All parishes and religious communities are invited to organise their own service or moment of prayer; encouraged to light again the Candle of Atonement, and
include a prayer for victims.

In 2023, this date will be Friday 24 February.

The following prayer was inscribed on the healing stone which was unveiled at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 and now has its permanent home at Lough Derg, Co Donegal.

Lord, we are so sorry
for what some of us did to your children:
treated them so cruelly,
especially in their hour of need.
We have left them with a lifelong suffering.
This was not your plan for them or us.
Please help us to help them.
Guide us, Lord, Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:


With humility of heart, we pray to God,
whose love and faithfulness endures forever.

• We pray for people who have been abused
whether physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually
that the Lord of all tenderness and compassion
will restore them and give them peace.

• We pray that we become more and more a community
that actively protects the most vulnerable people of society, particularly our children.

• We pray that the Spirit of Wisdom enlightens people
to put an end to acts of violence and abuse.

• We pray for the healing professions
who minister to those who suffer violence and abuse,
that God will give them an abundance of wisdom, compassion and love.

Concluding Prayer

God our rock and our strength on whom we lean,
help us to create an atmosphere of trust
which allows the unspeakable to be said.
Help us to live with our painful memories.
May we support each other and be safe places for each other.
Through Christ, our Lord.

When faced with great difficulty, we often can be at a total loss for words.
But the Spirit of God can express even our sighs to the heart of God.

From the letter of St Paul to the Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.
For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly,
the Spirit himself expresses our plea
in a way that could never be put into words,
and God who knows everything in our hearts
knows perfectly well what he means,
and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit
are according to the mind of God.

From Psalm 33

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble will hear and be glad.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

From the Gospel according to Matthew 18:5-7a, 10

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
But anyone who is an obstacle
to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in me
would be better drowned in the depths of the sea
with a great millstone round his neck.

Alas for the world that there should be such obstacles!’
‘See that you never despise any of these little ones,
for I tell you that their angels in heaven
are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

Prayers and Reflections

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:

You gave your only Son
to save us by the blood of his cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear our cries of distress
over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope,
steady shaken spirits with faith:

Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your peoples wounds
and transform our brokenness.

Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace
so that we may act with justice
and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

From a prayer produced by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops

Praise to you, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
source of all consolation and hope.

By your Son’s dying and rising
he remains our light in every darkness,
our strength in every weakness.

Be the refuge and guardian
of all who suffer from abuse and violence.

Comfort them and send healing
for their wounds of body, soul and spirit.

Rescue them from bitterness and shame
and refresh them with your love.

Heal the brokenness in all victims of abuse
and revive the spirits of all who lament this sin.

Help us to follow Jesus
in drawing good from evil, life from death.

Make us one with you in your love for justice
as we deepen our respect
for the dignity of every human life.

Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating your praise,
both now and forever. Amen.

Towards Peace

Towards Peace is a service offering spiritual support to people who have experienced abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual and /or spiritual abuse, which was perpetrated by Church personnel, individually or institutionally.  Funded by the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference and the Association of Missionary and Religious in Ireland (formally CORI and IMU), the vision of Towards Peace is to provide a safe supportive space for people and their families, whose spiritual life has been damaged by abuse. It is also a response to the continually growing understanding of the spiritual impact of the trauma of abuse.  Through spiritual accompaniment with a trained spiritual director Towards Peace endeavours to accompany people as they seek their own experience of spiritual peace one step at a time. There is no predetermined roadmap on this journey. Each person travels at their own particular pace.  The service is free of charge.

For further information please contact the Towards Peace office:

Phone: 00353 (0)1 5053028

Email: [email protected]


Here is a the link to a youtube video clip about Towards Peace