I’ve been trying to write a prayer for Sunday’s service in response to the news of the guilty verdict in George Pell’s trial. I was not sexually abused in the church, but news of the verdict still left me feeling sick and scared and young again, and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Pell’s victims and for others whose experience was reflected in the story of Pell’s abusing. This is what I’ve come up with so far. It’s offered with deep humility, in the hope that some people might find it helpful.
Gracious and healing God,
we thank you for the many ways that you enrich our lives.
In the midst of despair, you offer us hope.
When we are at our most vulnerable,
you give us comfort and strength.
When we feel alone, you are always with us.
Be with all those who today are suffering:
those who have been betrayed;
those who are living with brokenness and pain.
We particularly think of people who were abused as children:
those who experienced psychological, physical, or sexual abuse;
those abused in their home, in churches, or in other institutions;
those abused by people they knew and should have been able to trust;
those abused by strangers.
We pray for all of them today.
Loving God, may your Spirit comfort and heal them.
May they find communities of safety
within which they can experience peace and nurture.
We pray for the legal system, as it seeks to do justice;
and for all those who support the survivors of abuse.
We remember those victims of child abuse who have not survived;
those who have died as a result of suicide,
or because they turned to alcohol and other drugs to dull their pain.
We pray for the Uniting Church, and for all other churches.
May we have the courage to honestly face the crimes of the past.
May we admit where we have done wrong,
and make the changes that will make our churches safer in the future.
May we make whatever restitution is in our power.
May Christians never again put the reputation of the church
above the protection of children.
We make all these prayers in the name of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, who once said:
“It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
May the churches never again cause the little ones to stumble.