PORTLAND, Maine — Bishop Richard J. Malone, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, has designated Thursday a day of prayer and penance for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

Malone will celebrate Mass at 12:15 p.m. that day at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. He will ask those who attend to adopt additional practices of prayer, fasting or charity for their intentions that day, according to a diocesan press release issued Monday.

The service is part of a national effort to raise awareness about child abuse during April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged dioceses to raise awareness about the issue during Masses.

Malone, according to the press release, is encouraging parishes around the state to include prayers for survivors during Masses, print bulletin information on child abuse each weekend and to use a special liturgy on the weekend of April 25-26.

“The work of protecting children in our diocese is not a short-term project,” Malone said, “but a commitment and responsibility now woven into the fabric of church life. The Catholic Church seeks forgiveness for past harm and pledges not only to make our parishes and schools safe, but also to give parents and children the in-formation they need to be safe in all settings where children spend time.”

Malone is serving his second term on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The bishop again Monday urged people who have been sexually abused by a church representative to make a report to the church and to law enforcement. Once a report is made, according to the press release, the diocese will make its own report to civil authorities, will offer to pay for counseling, will investigate the report and remove offenders.