LIVERPOOL, England (CNA/EWTN News)—An estimated 10,000 Catholics processed through the streets of Liverpool in a Eucharistic Procession on Sunday, September 9, in a spirit of prayer and penance for the clerical abuse scandals.
The procession was held at the conclusion of the country’s September 7-9 National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress. It was the largest Catholic procession to have occurred in the United Kingdom since Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit in 1982, according to the BBC.
The theme for the national pilgrimage and congress was “I am the Bread of Life.” Organized by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, it was held at the Liverpool Echo Arena and included adoration, worship music, and drama performances. Two Masses were also held at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, drawing hundreds.
International Eucharistic Congresses are held in different countries every three to four years. One was last held in England in 1908. The events aim to inspire a greater understanding and love of the Eucharist. Participants at the Liverpool event were also encouraged to promote Eucharistic Adoration in schools and parishes.
While the gathering had been planned for months, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, said that in light of recent events, the Eucharistic procession purposely took on a spirit of “prayer and penance.”
“In many ways, ours is a penitential procession for we are focused on Jesus Christ, who we have crucified,” he said, according to the BBC. “Today I come as a beggar seeking forgiveness laying the load, hurt, damage and mistrust we have caused at the foot of the cross.”
The procession took place amid a wave of high-profile sex abuse revelations, in countries including the U.S., Ireland, Australia, and Chile.
Over the summer, retired Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick resigned from the college of cardinals following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of diocesan seminarians.
Weeks later, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania found more than 1,000 accusations of abuse against some 300 clergy members in six dioceses in the state, as well as a pattern of cover-up by senior Church officials.
Last month, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse released a report detailing evidence of sexual and physical abuse at two Benedictine abbey schools in England.