Archbishop Eamon Martin publishes message for Day of Prayer for victims and survivors of abuse

19 Feb 2021

  • Archbishop’s video message offers apology, invites participation in prayer for victims and survivors, and lighting a candle of atonement.

Today, across Ireland, the Catholic Church marks the annual Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse.  

During his video message to victims and survivors Archbishop Martin says, “No wonder so many people who have been abused find it so very difficult to forgive or to trust the Church any more.  They need to hear from Church leaders like me, that we realise the harm that has been done to them, that we are sorry for that, and that we want to make atonement.  And I repeat that to them today.  I am sorry for what happened to you.  I  am sorry for the terrible failures and crimes that happened in your Church, and I want to do my best to ensure that no one else suffers in the way that you did.”

The Day of Prayer is an initiative by Pope Francis and was first marked in Irish dioceses and parishes in 2017.  The bishops of Ireland have blessed and dedicated Candles of Atonement for use in cathedrals and parishes throughout the country on the Day of Prayer and thereafter during the celebration of Mass and other liturgies.  These candles will be lit in Cathedrals and parishes across the country as a reminder of the need for atonement.  They symbolise repentance, light in the darkness and hope.

The prayer ritual for the dedication and lighting of the ‘Candle of Atonement’ in Cathedrals and parish churches is based on the very moving Penitential Rite composed and prayed by Pope Francis at the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Phoenix Park when he implored the Lord’s mercy for the crimes of abuse and asked for forgiveness.


Notes for Editors

  • Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of Dromore and Primate of All Ireland.
  • Candle of Atonement Prayer

Lord, forgive us our many sins.

We grieve and repent with all our hearts for having offended you, for our great failings and neglect of the young and vulnerable.

We place all of those who have been hurt by the Church in any way into your loving hands and under the protection of Our Blessed Mother.

Lord, bring peace to their broken lives and show us all the way out of darkness and into the light of your Word.

May we as the people of God be more fully human, more fully Christ-like and more fully your people, that we may see the errors of the past and go forward with renewed hope and faith in Christ and in our Church.


  • The bishops have made resources available for use in parishes and these can be downloaded from                            

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby +353 (0) 86 862 3298