Harmed by church, faithful gather to seek healing

They gathered quietly for the "Service of Apology."

The roughly 250 people who came together at St. Paul Cathedral did not share the usual greetings with fellow parishioners that can be seen before Mass on any given Sunday throughout the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Many of these people were strangers to each other, but all were gathered for the service led by Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik April 7.

Bishop Zubik had announced in a mid-Lent column in the Pittsburgh Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, that he would conduct the service for those "who have been harmed by the church in any way. There will be nothing expected of you but your presence and your willingness to pray with me."

Those who took their seats at the cathedral that evening were a mix of men and women, with the older more evident than the young.

As they came in, most dipped their fingers in the holy water font, made the sign of the cross, pulled down the kneelers in the pews and folded their hands in prayer. It was clearly a gathering of Catholics, comfortable in a Catholic environment, even though some may not have been in church for many years.