Just Gospel: Pope Francis’ Intention for Those Suffering from Harm from Others

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

March 20, 2023

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy offers a ‘Just Gospel’ blog post each month reflecting on Pope Francis Prayer Intention and includes any other specific focus of her religious community for the year. Find in this reflection the Pope’s March Prayer Intention for those who have suffered harm from members of the Church, as well as a familiar St. Thomas Aquinas’ phrase on the Eucharist at this time of Eucharistic Revival.

These March days find us journeying along a Lenten path. It seems fitting to pause to consider Aquinas’ phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, You gave us the Eucharist as a memorial of your suffering and death.” The dictionary tells us that a memorial is something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event. Our theological understanding tells us that the Eucharist is not just a reminder of an event. It is Jesus living and present as host of a banquet, a meal that feeds, that unifies, that reminds while celebrating in the present.

So we are challenged to be mindful of the fact that each Eucharist brings Jesus’ suffering and death, the sacrifice of His life, into the present moment. Jesus gives his Body and Blood each day. Each day we are the beneficiaries of His Sacrifice. Let us be lovingly attentive to the unfathomable gift given at every altar, at every Mass.

Partnering with this consideration is Pope Francis’ intention which reads: For those who have suffered harm from members of the Church; may they find within the Church herself a concrete response to their pain and suffering.

Catholic author Brandon Vogt writes, I want to be very clear: these sexual abuse cases are horrific. There’s no downplaying them or justifying them or explaining them away. They’re egregious and scandalizing. But Catholicism doesn’t fall when its members fail. I’m Catholic not because Church leaders are perfect, but because the Church channels to me the love and forgiveness of Jesus in unparalleled ways: his body and blood in the Eucharist, his forgiveness in Confession. Life may seem easier outside the Church. But these divine treasures are only found within, and they carry Catholics through even the darkest of times.

These words remind us that our faith and faithfulness are rooted in the person of Jesus, present today in His Body, the Church. While compassion demands that we listen with our hearts to those who suffer because of the sinfulness of Church members, fidelity requires that we remain solidly within the Bark of Peter even during the worst of storms. While daily praying this intention perhaps we can add a Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse offered by the USCCB.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by the blood of his cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.



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