PORTLAND — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has designated Wednesday as a day of prayer and penance for harm done to the victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

In Portland, the day will be recognized by Bishop Richard Malone with a 12:15 p.m. celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

“Each year, I ask the clergy of the diocese to join me by marking a day of contrition for past offenses against minors,” Malone said, in a prepared statement. “Through prayer and reflection, may we become even more committed to healing the wounds of the past and preventing sexual abuse in the future.”

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Diocese, said the annual mass of prayer and penance began in 2002.

Bernard said the Diocese encourages any victim or survivor of priest sexual abuse to contact the Office of Professional Responsibility (321-7836) or local law enforcement.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – also known as SNAP – reacted to the Bishop’s plans.

“While we are glad that Bishop Richard Malone recognizes the fact that members of the clergy have committed horrific crimes against the most innocent and vulnerable members of the community, actions protect children not words,”  David Clohessy, SNAP’s director, said in a prepared statement.

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