PORTLAND — Catholic clergy across Maine are saying prayers for victims of past sexual abuse incidents in the church.

Wednesday has been designated as a day of prayer and penance in churches in the Maine Catholic diocese.

During Wednesday Masses, priests are being encouraged to say special prayers calling for the healing of abuse victims and the repentance and justice of abuse perpetrators, as well prayers for families and church clergy and staff. The largest Mass will be held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

Bishop Richard Malone says the church seeks forgiveness for past abuse and pledges to make its schools and parishes safe.

There are about 188,000 Catholics in Maine.

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