A General Intercession for Good Friday

According to the Sacramentary, “In case of serious public need, the local Ordinary may permit or decree the addition of a special intention.”

Let us pray, dear friends,
for the victims of sexual abuse,
in particular for children who were abused by clergy;
that God may grant to those whose innocence was violated
the grace of healing and new life.

Silent prayer. Then the priest sings or says:

Almighty and eternal God,
be the refuge and guardian
of all who suffer from abuse and violence.
Heal their wounds of body, soul and spirit;
rescue them from shame and guilt;
and refresh them with your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from www.archmil.org/offices/sexual-abuse-prevention/healing-prayer.htm by Kyle Lechtenberg, Diana Macalintal, and Anthony Ruff, OSB


  1. Please note that only comments about the liturgical use of this petition on Good Friday will be approved. In accord with the primary purpose of this blog, comments about the sex abuse crisis or the hierarchy oversight crisis will be deleted. – Editor.

  2. Anthony,

    THANK YOU! I’ve been thinking about how to handle this (again) this year, and you’ve provided an elegant solution.

    I was also taken with Archbishop Collins’ (Toronto) statement at his Chrism Mass: We should be grateful for the attention which the media devotes to the sins of Catholic clergy, even if constant repetition may give the false impression that Catholic clergy are particularly sinful. That attention is a profound tribute to the priesthood which we celebrate at this Mass of the Chrism. People instinctively expect holiness in a Catholic priest, and are especially appalled when he does evil. http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2010/03/in-coverage-profound-tribute.html

    Holy Easter!

  3. Fr. Anthony,

    A question: I see that Bishop Kinney gave the imprimatur for the prayer that you linked. Will the additional general intercession be offered at St. John’s this year?

  4. Anthony, it’s interesting that you would carry this today. On my own blog post today, I commented on the reactions of a pastor when I suggested a similar intercession for Easter in 2003. Thanks for providing this.

  5. A similar petition could be inserted in the third of the five BCP Solemn Intercessions. This would be especially fitting in places where Episcopalians and Anglicans are sharing intimately in the anguish of their Roman Catholic sisters and brothers during this time of crisis.

    Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind;

    For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute
    and the oppressed;
    For the sick, the wounded, and the crippled;
    For victims of sexual abuse, especially children
    who have suffered at the hands of clergy;

    For those in loneliness, fear, and anguish;
    For those who face temptation, doubt, and despair;
    For the sorrowful and bereaved;
    For prisoners and captives, and those in mortal danger;

    that God in his mercy will comfort and relieve them, and grant them the knowledge of his love, and stir up in us the will and patience to minister to their needs.

    Silence [Let us kneel. Arise.]

    Gracious God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: Let the cry of those in misery and need come to you, that they may find your mercy present with them in all their afflictions; and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them for the sake of him who suffered for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  6. Since most bishops (mine included) haven’t suggested this very good prayer or one like it for Good Friday, it seems that we should be adding prayers of this nature to the General Intercessions of the Mass. Our parish did for Palm Sunday, one for the pope and his ministry during this time of darkness and the other for victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergy and others. These are simple to add to Easter Sunday’s Mass and require no special approval by the Ordinary.

  7. It’s a beautiful prayer, but I’m not sure about using it in the Good Friday Liturgy. On the one hand, because of the recent news coverage, this issue will be on peoples’ minds. So perhaps this measured, prayerful mention would be a good way to speak about it. However, I tend to resist this kind of reasoning. The healing of victims of sexual abuse is a great need. But is that why we would pray this prayer? To my ear, it sounds intensely of-the-moment. It gives the journalistic world entry into this unusually formal liturgy in a way that is a bit distracting. We should pray to God for the greatest needs, without worrying too much about the news cycle.

    My other hesitation is ecclesiological. The existing prayers carefully avoid triumphalism while maintaining the Vatican II view of the preeminence of the Church in the world. Could reference to this crime, which has been “outed” more in our Church than in other bodies, tip this careful balance?

    1. Kathy, I share your thoughts and concerns. There is a desire here to do the right thing in naming the issue and bringing it into our prayer, but also not wanting to shock or hurt people by doing something unexpected which could be perceived in a wide variety of ways, including by victims. I suspect it’s more appropriate to have a service like Cardinal Schoenborn’s in Vienna which names the issue 10 times more directly, but at a service which has that purpose and where all the participants are expecting that, compared to one mention on Good Friday which could be pretty explosive. By none of this do I mean to minimize the very important sentiments of this prayer.
      So much sensitivity is needed, so much listening, so much humility, so much love.

  8. In my diocese we have regular prayer services and Masses for victims, held half a dozen times each year, said by the bishop or his delegate. They include a hosted reception that may last for hours, depending on the needs of the victims.

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