Ten days before Pope Francis’ first meeting in Rome (21-24 February) with the presidents of all Bishops’ Conferences to discuss child safeguarding throughout the universal Church, Ireland will be holding the annual Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse on Friday, 15 February. During the Day, a prayer will be read out and “Candles of Atonement” will be lit in cathedrals and parishes across the country to “ask forgiveness as a Church for the suffering caused by abuse”, the Archbishop of Armagh and president of the Irish Bishops, Eamon Martin, announced. “In lighting these candles – the archbishop wrote – we will bring to mind our brothers and sisters, and their families, who have been left with a lifelong suffering as a result of abuse, whose trust was so deeply betrayed and whose faith has been so cruelly tested. In recent weeks I have been privileged to meet with victims and survivors of abuse and members of their families in the four provinces of Ireland. Many have spoken to me about the importance of prayer for survivors, and for the need for the Church to be open to justice, to atone and never forget them. I have been humbled by their courage and overwhelmed by their generosity of spirit. It is my intention to relay the lived experience and insights of Irish survivors, both personally to Pope Francis, and more widely to the safeguarding meeting in Rome later this month”. Mgr. Martin encouraged dioceses and parishes across Ireland to undertake this new prayer initiative and to light the “Candle of Atonement” also during the meeting of the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences with the Pope in Rome. The candles – he stressed – are a sign of “repentance, light in the darkness and hope”. A prayer will be offered as they are lit: “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. Lord, bring peace to their broken lives and show us all the way out of darkness and into the light of your Word”.