PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Parishionersin Portland Diocese observed a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse, a tradition started eleven years ago by Bishop Richard Malone.

"It's important for Bishop Malone becuase he wanted to constantly be reminded of the fact that we're always asking for forgiveness, and also always affirming our safe guards that have been put in place," said Dave Guthro, Communications Director for the Diocese of Portland.

Monsignor Andrew Dubois celebrated mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday.

Asking for forgiveness and healing, he said the church's work continues to prevent more cases of abuse.

Bishop Malone started the Day of Prayer of Penance the same year the Catholic Church adopted its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

A response to sexual abuse cases throughout the church, the charter's mandates include:

  • Removing clergy of Church representatives who have sexually abused minors
  • Reaching out to victims and their families with patience and compassion
  • Reporting all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities
  • Investigating all complaints of abuse in a timely and thorough manner
  • Implementing safe environment programs, which include abuse prevention training and awareness for all personnel and volunteers
  • Completing background checks for all personnel

The charter also requires each Diocese to create an Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate claims of sexual abuse.

In December, the Diocese of Portland received a 100% compliance rating for following the mandates in the charter.

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