Richmond Diocese plans Mass of Atonement to pray for abuse victims

Local bishop plans "mass of atonement"

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many people in the Catholic community are fed up and in disbelief after a grand jury report accused 300 priests in Pennsylvania of child abuse over the last 70 years.

"They've been invaded. and I feel like this is the devil," said Monica Holmes.

Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond released a statement this week saying he is aware of the hurt and anger felt by the Catholic community.

He also says he is committed to addressing accusations of abuse quickly and transparently.

"These people that did this, these pedophiles is not what the church is about," Holmes said.

ChildSavers, an organization that helps traumatized children, says the damage that comes from sexual abuse can be crippling to a child's development.

"They have questions have questions about safety, can I keep myself safe, is the world a place that bad things are going to keep happening," said Bob Nickles of ChildSavers.

The Richmond Diocese says it has efforts in place to keep their children safe from abuse.

Its Safe Environment Program helps with reporting crime.

As Catholics in Virginia are upset with what happened in Pennsylvania, Knestout has invited members to a Mass of Atonement to pray for the victims and express their feelings about the church.

Members say the service is needed.

"I'm ashamed that we in trusted these people and they have let us down," said Holmes.

The Mass of Atonement is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond.

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