Dear brothers and friends in the Lord,
Last Wednesday, in my letter in response to the abuse crisis we are experiencing, I indicated that I would propose concrete ways of acting on the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting by the members of the Church. Fr. Sosa’s letter of August 24 which echoes that call offers us further impetus.
After discussion with my Consultors, I ask all Jesuit communities to take Saturday, September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, as a day of fasting and prayer. Since we are called to communal conversion, I ask superiors to organize a Eucharist or time of prayer for the whole community and to foster the call to fasting on that day. The road ahead will involve all of us in responding to this crisis and so it is right that we pray and fast in union with one another, seeking forgiveness of the sins that have been but also moving us to hunger and thirst for justice in solidarity with victims of abuse and all those who remain vulnerable. As Fr. Sosa notes, we need a conversion to help create a culture that is safe for children and all who are vulnerable.
Fr. Sosa has also asked all directors of (Jesuit) works to create some time of common prayer and penance; as Pope Francis wrote in his letter, ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together with it’ (1Cor 2:26). You know best how to help the women and men you serve respond to this call. You may find some date other than September 15 serves you best. Nevertheless, I ask all of you to reflect on how you will help the Church move forward in this important matter.
Is this the last step we will take? Obviously not. Both the Holy Father and Fr. Sosa invite us to a continuing process of conversion of mind and heart. This moment of prayer and fasting prepares us for the road ahead.
Thank you for responding to the call of the Society and the Church in this important matter. May Mary the Mother of the Lord intercede for us as together we seek to discern God’s call.
Your brother in the Lord,
Ronald A. Mercier, S.J.