The service began on a somber note. In place of the usual organ music and hymns of welcome, Bishop Zubik and his alter servers entered in silence, the only noises the sound of their footsteps and the rustling and muffled coughing of those in attendance.
Reaching the altar, Bishop Zubik prostrated himself before it, lying flat and motionless on the cool marble floor for a full two minutes. He stood up, and soon offered the opening prayer in a ringing voice that filled the huge, vaulted cathedral.
"Where sin has divided and scattered, may your love make one again," he said, addressing God. "Where sin has brought weakness and hurt, may your power heal and strengthen. Where sin has brought death, may your spirit raise to life."
But even as he celebrated God's mercy, he acknowledged that the church is made up of men and women who are very human and at times, very sinful.
It was clear from the hundreds of people attending the service that their sins had caused harm, he said....
He would do whatever he could, he told his listeners -- many of whom were middle-aged men and elderly women -- to restore their trust in the church "so that as a church, we can live our best, love our best, do our best, give our best."
Bishop Zubik then lit six candles of remembrance and apology to the victims -- children, teenagers and adults -- of abuse by representatives of the church.
"We acknowledge their deep wounds," said a priest, after Bishop Zubik lit the third candle. "We acknowledge the betrayal of a most sacred trust. We acknowledge their courage in speaking the truth. We affirm their dignity as people who are seeking truth and accountability, compassion and redress for the wrong that has been done to them. We support their healing. We offer our prayer for their journey toward wholeness."
Sounds like Bishop Zubik is off to a great start in one of America's great cities.