The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


A deacon’s proposal for public penance — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

FrEdison_prostrate_Crupi.png
A deacon in Alaska sent me the letter below and, with his permission, I’m printing it here in full. I’d like to hear what readers, especially deacons and priests, think of this proposal for public penance:

As I know you have, I’ve been following the heartbreaking news as it has broken regarding the clerical sex abuse scandal in Europe and the response from the Holy Father and the Vatican. As I’ve pondered this crisis, I’ve wondered what role of diaconal service God might be calling us to. How might we serve as deacons, as the ‘eyes, ears, and heart’ of our bishops and as ministers of charity and justice? (I think too, of how in the early Church when the pope or a bishop witnessed to Christ by enduring martyrdom, their companions were inevitably deacons.) How might we stand with our bishops during this crisis?

The problem of course, is that in our country and in Europe (and probably worldwide), our bishops have, at best, failed to protect our children and at worst have betrayed the trust placed in them. There are many ways in which those who govern our Church need to respond to this crisis, and in this country our bishops have done a good job since 2002 in safeguarding children and removing clerics who abuse children and young people. But what has been missing I think, have been clear and visible signs of repentance and contrition on the part of our bishops. One repeated criticism of them has been that even in their apologies, they have resembled corporate executives rather than pastors. In a real sense, they have not yet responded, either as a body or as individual bishops in a Catholic enough way. All the more remarkable because of our rich tradition of public penance and outward signs of repentance and contrition, but unfortunately, to date, very few of our bishops have entered the public practice of our Catholic penitential tradition.

The Holy Father in the past couple of days has called us as a Church to penance, which is good and appropriate up to a point (because we are all part of the Body of Christ) but misdirected, I think, because the faithful were not responsible for the decisions that caused so much harm to victims and scandal. It is the bishops themselves who need to seek God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of those who were harmed because of their failure to protect the most vulnerable members of their flock from abusive priests and to implore God’s mercy on behalf those clerics who molested children and young people (most of whom are unrepentant and evade all responsibility for their crimes).

So here is my question for you. What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents before each Mass on the weekend closest to the feast of St.Peter and Paul or on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some other appropriate day or days? Or, even better, on the first Friday of every month for the next year starting with the feast of the Sacred Heart or Sts.Peter and Paul? And what if we, as their deacons, as an order in the Church, in all humility, not only called on our bishops to do public penance, but offered to join them in it?

As deacons we invite God’s holy people to pray for mercy in the Penitential Rite. As deacons we call God’s priestly people to pray for the needs of the Church and world at every Mass. As deacons on Good Friday, it is our part to invite our bishop and priests and all the faithful to kneel in prayer.

Just as I think it is our part to call our bishops to do public penance, I think it is also our part to join them in penance as well. Clearly, our place is with our bishops: we stand at the side of our bishop during every celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments, ready to assist them. We lie next to them every Good Friday as we prostrate our selves before the mystery of the Lord’s death on the cross. And I think that if we, as deacons, are willing to stand (or kneel or prostrate ourselves) at the side of our bishops, they might say yes to doing public penance.

I realize that this proposal calls for additional reflection and prayer, but it is one that I would hope that deacons around the country and in the rest of the Church would seriously consider. Is there a forum in which deacons as a body could discuss this together? Please let me know what you think of this.

I think that we, as deacons, are in a providential position to ask our bishops to pray publicly for forgiveness in word and action and to join them in doing so as their deacons.

In Christ the Servant,

Deacon Charles Rohrbacher

Any thoughts? I think this is a bold idea, and he just might be on to something.  But would it have any impact? Is it even workable? I’m curious to hear what others think about this…

UPDATE: Fr. Z has linked (thanks!) and adds a few thoughts of his own.

And The Anchoress likes this idea, too.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(54)
post a comment
Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 6:21 am


It is certainly a good idea, though I think Deacon Rohrbacher hits the nail on his head with his comment that the ones who caused the problem are the least likely to volunteer.
Your response, Deacon Kandra, says a lot of good things about you.
One of the most repeated comments on your and nearly all conservative Catholic blogs of late has been “you non-conservative Catholics and all non-Catholics” have nothing to say here. I think, had the Catholic church followed Rohrbacher’s not-exactly-radical suggestion when this all first came to light, it wouldn’t have led to such public outrage.
It is true that accepting one’s responsibility for having done wrong or making a mistake does not appease conservatives. It carries quite a lot of weight with us “liberal” Christians.
Thank you for publishing this.



report abuse
 

Holy Cannoli

posted April 20, 2010 at 7:42 am


>>>What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents…
Good idea!
>>>Is it even workable (read: would they be willing to do it)?
There’s the rub.



report abuse
 

hlvanburen

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:01 am


Deacon Kandra, this is indeed an excellent idea, and thanks for sharing it. I have my doubts that there will be many who take up this call outside of the diaconate, but I also hope sincerely that those doubts are proven wrong.



report abuse
 

Dcn Scott

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:12 am


All I can say is that I think this is inspired!



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:39 am


My word, Holy Cannoli, we are in agreement!
I hate to say it, but the facts show pretty clearly that the one group in the Apostolic succession which has least abused children also happens to be the one group which is most loudly calling for public penance:
The deacons.
Not that I’m surprised…



report abuse
 

Deacon Norb

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:53 am


You know, I really do not do Benedictions very often — maybe twice a year — BUT when I do, I always pray prostrate before the Sacrament when the congregation is singing “O Salutaris, Hostia.”
I just never realized why I was prompted to pray in that manner.
The Holy Spirit — Hagia Sophia — can work in very feminine ways.
________
Note to Panthera:
(1) Deacons are NOT in the apostolic succession — only Bishops are; but (2) you are absolutely correct, of the three ordained ministries in our church, the deacons are the least involved in the abuse issues.



report abuse
 

Mr Flapatap

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:53 am


I like the idea and I think that it would convey a powerful message. I also see the problem with its implementation because of a part of the problem that I have not seen in any of the reporting: most of the bishops were acting in good faith following the recommendations of the psycological “experts” and therapists of the time. These “experts” were declaring the perpetrators cured and stressing the need of putting them back in positions of trust as an important part of completing the treatment. These “experts” also downplayed the effects of the abuse on the victims. (Heck, not long ago the American Psychological Association published and article saying that “the negative effects [of sexual abuse] were neither pervasive nor typically intense.” (“A Meta-analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples.”)
I can see many bishops being reluctant to do public penance for a situation where, following the advice of “experts”, they thought that they were doing the right thing. I am not excusing them or letting them off the hook but the psychological field have gotten a free ride throughout this scandal.



report abuse
 

anthony

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:56 am


Perhaps Deacon Greg and Deacon Charles are calling for public penance but there are many deacons who do not see something like this as a good idea. I am sure it comes from a sincere motive, but an idea like this also shows to many others why the diaconate is not taken seriously and if in the words of Deacon Charles they think part of the role of the deacon is to call bishops to public penance, i am not sure they grasp the role of the deacon.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 9:07 am


Thank you, Deacon Norb, I misspoke.
Anthony, I fail to see why a call for a public display of penance is ever wrong for any Christian.,
Are you suggesting that Bishops are somehow not to be criticized?
Or, perhaps, that they are above sin?
Or, merely, that criticism may only go in one direction within the Catholic church?
The ad hominem attack, especially after the last years when the Catholic church has permitted African Priests to marry and married male priests from other denominations to become Catholic priests strikes me as a tad bit, shall we say, thoughtless?



report abuse
 

kenneth

posted April 20, 2010 at 9:17 am


If the bishops actually believed in anything greater than their own power and privilege (like maybe Christ), they wouldn’t need a push from deacons. That aside, it’s great to see that someone in the clergy caste still has a moral compass.



report abuse
 

cathyf

posted April 20, 2010 at 9:47 am


I’m actually pretty uncomfortable with the idea of doing penance for other people’s sins, unless it is made very very clear whose sins they are. There are lots of steps that lead up to penance — recognition of the sin, contrition for the sin, confession of the sin. THEN penance follows. By blurring the question of just what the sin is that penance is being performed for, you are starting out with something that is fundamentally dishonest.
Take the case this week that Nashville’s Bishop Stika dealt with. The victim brought the charges to the chancellor, who immediately took them to the bishop, they immediately confronted the priest, who confessed. According to the victim, Wednesday morning was the first time that anyone in the Church other than the perpetrator was made aware of what happened back in 1975-1980, and the perpetrator was permanently removed from ministry and stripped of faculties by Wednesday afternoon. The bishop did this very publicly in order to invite any other victims to come forward.
So, which of Bishop Stika’s action last week do people think he should be doing penance for? True contrition demands a sincere intention of amendment — which thing should he do differently next time (if there is a next time)?



report abuse
 

Fr. Roy V. Eco

posted April 20, 2010 at 9:56 am


ADDRESS TO THE DIOCESE OF ORLANDO
Today, Tuesday, April 20th, Pope Benedict XVI announced my appointment as archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Miami succeeding Archbishop John Clement Favalora. Jesus once bid Peter “Duc in altum” (Put out into the deep). Now Peter’s successor has asked me to do the same in entrusting to me this new responsibility. I am being called back to that local Church where I was ordained a priest and where I served as a parish priest and auxiliary bishop. Humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in me and aware of my own limitations and shortcomings, I once again ask the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, that I may worthily fulfill my new duties as the fourth Archbishop of Miami upon my installation on June 1, 2010.
I am deeply grateful to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Orlando who almost seven years ago welcomed me as coadjutor bishop on August 22, 2003. As your bishop since November 13, 2004, I have enjoyed your support and affection. Together, we have tended many talents in the Lord’s vineyard. Our Diocesan Synod, “Starting Afresh from Christ” helped set the priorities of a renewed vision for this growing, dynamic and still young local Church called to be “Alive in Christ and Witness to Hope”. Our 40th anniversary observances in 2008 of which our Festival of Faith was the highlight underscored the vitality of the Catholic Church in these nine counties of Central Florida.
The faithful of Orlando are members of a Church truly “Alive in Christ”. This is seen in the increased number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life (the number of seminarians has doubled in the past five years); in the eight new parishes or missions established since 2004 and, despite a challenging economic environment, in the generous response to the Alive in Christ capital campaign that has already reached $100 million in pledges and gifts. I am confident that in coming months the parishes yet to conduct the campaign will successfully bring this first ever diocesan wide campaign to a successful conclusion. In October of this year, the majority of our 90 parishes or missions will also participate in Why Catholic?, a faith formation program that will help our parishes to better be “schools of prayer” and “schools of communion” (cf. Novo Milenio Ineunte)
In these short years of service as your bishop, we have tried to respond to the challenges of the growth and the diversity of this diocese. More of our parishes minister to multi-ethnic, multi-cultural communities, including for example growing numbers of Hispanics, Filipinos, Haitians and Vietnamese. El Clarin and Radio Buena Nueva evangelize in the Hispanic community through the media.
Even as we continue to promote the growth of priestly and religious vocations from the youth of our diocese, we have been blessed, as in years past, with priests who have arrived to minister here from other dioceses or religious communities and, more often than not, from other countries. Their presence has strengthened and enriched our presbyterate.
Of course, while I continue to be the Bishop of Orlando until June 1st, I know that new responsibilities and challenges await me in Miami. In due time, the Holy Father will appoint another bishop to lead this diocese which I have come to love dearly. In the interim, a diocesan administrator from among our clergy will be chosen. I ask your prayers for him and for me and for your new bishop whoever he might be.
In past years, I have often quoted from Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. His words seem to me particularly fitting today:
“In all humility we will do what we can, and with all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: ‘The love of Christ urges us on’.”



report abuse
 

Holy Cannoli

posted April 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm


Fr. E.
ADDRESS TO THE DIOCESE OF ORLANDO
http://174.121.188.25/~orlandod/video/index.php
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Bishop Wenski offers a Mass of Reparation for Notre Dame scandal
http://causa-nostrae-laetitiae.blogspot.com/2009/04/bishop-wenski-offers-mass-of-reparation.html



report abuse
 

Ruth Ann

posted April 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm


Deacon Greg, I have a proposal of a different sort. I’d love to see you leave Beliefnet because in your former format, The Deacon’s Bench, you were able to monitor the comments. Here that doesn’t seem to be the case. Your comments are monopolized by the likes of Cannoli and Panthera. I find that unappealing.
On the other hand, I like what you post.



report abuse
 

Stewart

posted April 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm


If you want repentance it must come form the source in directly asking forgiveness from Christ himself. This is a very skewed few of what Christ died for. He did not die for a Bishop, Deacon, Pope, Priest to intersect forgiveness for all. He died for all who will believe and ask forgiveness directly from him. If man can ask forgiveness of anothers sins Christ should not have come and siffered the agony of the cross!!!



report abuse
 

Steve P

posted April 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm


First, what the heck is going on with the reCaptcha thing? I am about to swear off of Beliefnet altogether if they don’t come up with a different system. This is the only one I ever have trouble with! Well, on to my trenchant analysis…
I think the way in which deacons straddle two worlds, secular and ecclesial, contributes to the wisdom they have to offer in a matter such as this. More often than not, they have a better sense of how the faithful in the pews, and the wider culture, are perceiving all this recent coverage.
And regardless of how one constructs the chronology of Catholic sexual abuse, I have seen little or no evidence of public penance on anyone’s part. Dcn. Rohrbacher’s proposal is indeed bold, and does draw on a rich and powerful heritage in our Church. And my reading of his approach places a lot more emphasis on the deacons standing by their bishops than it does on the deacons being the ones to call the bishops to task. Regarding CathyF’s point, aren’t we all called to penance for other sinners, such as our fasting and prayers on behalf of the souls in purgatory? We don’t need to know the nature of their sins in order to intercede for them. I admit part of the “public” nature of public penance was to be as upfront as possible about the nature and seriousness of the sin. It doesn’t make the penance meaningless, just because it is on the behalf of a predecessor.
To Mr. Flapatap’s point, as a Church, we are held to a higher standard. It may be irritating that psychological experts & therapists seem to get off scott free on this, but that’s not really our concern. Part of what has made the whole thing so ugly is just how bad it was that trusted religious authorities would perpetrate such crimes and coverups. Sexual abuse is awful, but in a sense, it IS worse when done by a priest, or parent, or teacher.
Finally, I expect that if such an initiative of public penance on the part of bishops did get off the ground, it would also be held up to ridicule and scorn. The hard-hearted and cynical will only see it as so much empty gesturing. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pursued. After all, it’s not just about the PR, though that is the way some will spin it. It will never be enough for some people, but it could speak very powerfully to others. Could be an amazing teaching opportunity, in my opinion.
But of course all this is easy for me to recommend for others. I have to work on the plank in my own eye, too.



report abuse
 

Stewart

posted April 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm


Peter and Paul were men and are dead just like Moses and Abraham they were great men of God but still they are dead. The Lord Jesus Christ lives in those who place him first above all others. I respect your views and believe you are earnest in what you are trying to do. Men and Women will fall because we were born into this fallen flesh. Your deacons do not owe me an apology they simply need to repent at the feet of Christ and no other. I wish the Catholic body could see threw the religious fog and look to relationship with Christ. Religion is man relationship is God and there is a big difference between the two. I challenge you to try Christ only as your hope for this life, for he is the only hope we have. Christ said if you serve man then that shall be your reward.



report abuse
 

cathyf

posted April 20, 2010 at 3:40 pm


Steve P, I understand your point about doing penance for others. (And am, with this very post, offering up captcha for the souls in purgatory. At this rate, purgatory might just be empty very soon!)
But a huge part of public penance is its symbolic and teaching value, and so it’s really important that it not be easily misunderstood. And this looks to me to be a giant potential for misunderstanding. The whole penance-for-others is very foreign to non-Catholics, and subtle to explain. I’m afraid that it would end up looking just like a cousin to that big ole nasty passive-aggressive non-apology of “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Our previous pastor told us a story a couple of times in homilies: He was in college, and in confession. He started out, and by way of explanation, launched into a long complaint about one of his neighbors in the dorm who was an obnoxious jerk. The priest let him go on for awhile, and then finally asked, “so when are you going to stop confessing his sins and get around to yours?”
We all chuckled. And squirmed a bit. The problem with doing penance for the speck in that other sinner’s eye is that you have to look past the plank in your own.



report abuse
 

Holy Cannoli

posted April 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm


Your comments are monopolized by the likes of Cannoli
Ruth Ann writes:
>>>Your comments are monopolized by the likes of Cannoli…
Before now, I made 2 comments on this thread. The first dealt directly with the subject of this thread “A deacon’s proposal for public penance.” The second was in response to Fr. Roy V. Eco, which included the video appearance of the new Bishop of Miami.
Have you responded to the subject of this thread, Ruth Ann, or do you prefer to simply traffic in whining and sniping at others?
Rhetorical question.



report abuse
 

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted April 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm


This is a compelling idea… It leaves me speechless and in the best sort of way.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm


Anyone help me in understanding what Stewart is saying here?



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm


Cathy,
I suppose many will see such actions as signs of complicity. I am, however, reminded of something I experience every semester.
I begin my first lecture with a genuine apology to my students for the problems they had registering for my course, the problems they had finding the three-times (or worse) room assignment and the fact that they “only” get two credit hours for a graduate level course.
This has the happy effect that two or three who are going to be jerks from the get-go immediately ask me why I ‘did’ it to them, if I’m so sorry about it. That produces the delightfully inevitable response from one or two others that all the courses this semester are messed up (been doing this since 1991 and have never yet seen any semester begin the way it was suppose to, but students don’t know that) and they should stop bellyaching.
With one brief apology, I have located my trouble makers, found the rational students and made clear to all that whatever our institutional problems, I am not the enemy.
Of course, I can’t do anything about the planning. I can and do however use my ‘authority’ to ameliorate whatever conflicts I can.
Doesn’t cost me anything except some genuine humility and empathetic dealing with people over whom I have considerable authority.
Just a thought…
Ruth Ann,
I am sorry my participation here displeases you. Actually, all moderators here have the right to ask anyone to leave whenever they like. It’s my job to play better with others and I freely admit that my policy is all too frequently, don’t bring a gun to a gun fight, bring thermo-nukes.
Um, it’s a pity Pergatory was discontinued, since we no longer have that option, anybody for sending the ‘gotcha’ programmers to the sixth ring of Hell?



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:35 pm


Oh, gosh, switched from Latin to English and totally misspelled, make that “Purgatory”.



report abuse
 

Chris Sullivan

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm


I think this proposal is an excellent one.
I think we need to do pennance as a community, not because all of us sinned by doing wilful evil, but because we failed as a community to protect innocent children.
For that reason, I believe that the Pope should also do penance for his own failures in Munich and at the CDF.
I think this would be very healing for the Church and yield very good fruit.
God Bless



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:43 pm


When was purgatory discontinued? Hadn’t heard about that.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm


Um, Conservative, sorry – we stopped believing in it about the turn of the 16th century or so. You still have the advantages of it.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted April 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm


I don’t know who “we” is as I have never heard what flavor of “Christian” you claim to be. But “we” Catholics, like the Deacon who runs this show, do certainly believe in it. To think that when this life is over you are ready to meet your maker immediately is certainly presumptuous but not surprising for you. You seem to presume a lot about things.



report abuse
 

anthony

posted April 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm


Because Belief net goes out to all in the population (christians, non, catholics and skeptics)
it is good to remind readers that this is just the opinion of a few deacons and does not reflect the teaching or practice of the Catholic church on the role and ministry of the diaconate. It is not the job of a deacon to call bishops to public penance and to clarify a point in the post the celebrant at Mass invites all to reflect on their sins, the deacon leads the response for mercy.
but for those deacons who do believe this is a positive idea, present it to your bishop and get back to us on how it works out and what you learned in the process. this type of post comes across as a “holier than thou”, meaning the deacons are some how the more moral in all this?
is this proposal just for spin? if it is real then follow it up with your bishop and get back to us.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm


Ah, Conservative,
I wasn’t implying that I am (nor ever shall be) ‘ready to meet my maker’ in the sense that I can present God with a heart so pure, a conscience so free that He will smile at me and say “’bout time somebody got it right.”
That said, Purgatory is on the shakiest of all theological grounds, there is good reason you won’t find B16 expounding greatly on the topic.
The concept is, frankly, extra-Biblical and, wonderfully appealing as I find it, just not not really relevant to the ultimate question of being a Christian in the here and now.
You do know, of course, that all these comments about the “lavender mafia” and all these hateful words about homosexual orientation are straight out of the Nazi playbook against the Jews in the 1920’s and 30’s.
Because our oppression is still legal in the US, we have become the Jew, the Negro, the “other” for very many.
If I did believe in Purgatory (wish I could, it’s a nice idea), I would expect that my “sin” of being in a loving, faithful, true and monogamous marriage would probably be more easily redeemed than the hatred and false witness born towards homosexuals by so very many Catholics.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm


Anthony,
I rather thought B16 had made it clear that it was the job of all Christians to point out injustice when we see it?
Or does that only apply to non-Catholics like me?
Seriously, on what teaching, on what doctrine, on what dogma, on what authority do you base your statement that deacons have nothing to say to bishops? Given my errors in identifying our host’s station earlier today I am trying to learn about the exact distinctions and, so far, haven’t found any basis for your statements….
I genuinely don’t know – in my Christian world, Jesus is our father and the rest of us are expected to follow His teachings with all our hearts. Everybody else has to subject themselves to rational analysis.



report abuse
 

anthony

posted April 20, 2010 at 6:10 pm


Panthera, i said nothing about the need to speak out about injustices. i am talking about the above article that has deacons calling bishops to public penance. if people would have spoken out against injustices when all this was happening we would not be in this mess. perhaps deacon gregg or the deacon charles can answer your question. at present i see no value in symbolic penance (laying prostrate in front of the cathedral, etc) i think the press and courts are giving the church enough penance and teaching them some humility. what is need is to rebuild confidence that there are better structures and ways of accountability to keep things more transparent and open. i would rather see the energy go into correcting institutional structures to prevent this from happening than symbolic displays of penance over the past.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted April 20, 2010 at 6:23 pm


Panthera writes: That said, Purgatory is on the shakiest of all theological grounds, there is good reason you won’t find B16 expounding greatly on the topic.
Well, if I have to choose between your theology and Benedct’s guess who wins? He wrote about it in Spe Salve and certainly the CCC paragraph 1030-1032 deal with it nicely. Do you think he doesn’t believe in it? Further, purgatory has nothing to do with being redeemed, we already were. If you think I am going to engage in a debate about purgatory don’t hold your breath, I wouldn’t waste mine.
All the comments about lavender mafia, etc. were not from me so don’t accuse me of it. Anyway I love you Panthera even if I don’t approve of your lifestyle.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm


Thank you Antony, I don’t agree completely (obviously) but do apreciate the explanation.
Conservative, I will take all the Christian charity I can get.
Thanks.



report abuse
 

Patty

posted April 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm


I cannot believe the comments being made here! “Let he who is not without sin cast the first stone.” Having said that, we cannot allow ANYONE to harm our children and just say “Shame on you” and send the offender to bed without dinner. It is the duty to all of God’s people to protect our children. To our utter shame, we in the Catholic Church, lay people and all who have any sort of ministry in the Church — from the Pope on down to the altar servers — have allowed those in authority to break an absolute sacred trust to protect the innocent. Hiding the perpetrators and shifting them from parish to parish and so forth, is reprehensible. A little show of humility should be the very least these bishops, priests, deacons — whomever — should display. An apology should be the very least action.
I was born in 1966 and Vatican II changes were being made as I grew up. I merely a lay person and am female and do not have a formal vocation in the Church. I have had the very good fortune to never have been molested by the clergy, even though there was a priest at my parish who did molest little boys so I was safe. I cannot imagine being betrayed in that manner by one’s clergyman. I believe that public displays of humility and penance is the very LEAST that should be done.
I am a faithful member of the Catholic Church. I try to lead a life worthy of my callling to be who I am. Yet I struggle with a far, far less egregious betrayal. I suffered personal betrayals when those clergy in authority over me taught me things that our Lord has clearly opposed, in the Gospels.
I guess what I am trying to say is if a person shatters another persons life, they need to make repairs to that person and should make it better than it was to begin with. If a normal every day person were to molest a child, he would be paying for the next 25 years. I would suggest to that person he just might want to display a lot of penance and pray that when he meets our Lord, He can be more forgiving than he has any right to have.



report abuse
 

Phil

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm


If you check with the Diocese of Pittsburg, I believe you will find that Bishop David Zubic has already conducted a service of penance in his cathedral similar to what the Alaskan deacon suggested. I likewise suspect he is one of the shamefully few bishops to have done so.



report abuse
 

Gerard Nadal

posted April 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm


Sounds great. If it would help to heal the wounds and restore trust, I’m all for it.
But it will never be enough for those making all the noise.
It will be sneered at as minimalistic window dressing. It will accelerate calls for resignations, which in turn will accelerate the calls for ‘power sharing’, which is an anti-Apostolic, Congregationalist model of ecclesiology.



report abuse
 

hlvanburen

posted April 20, 2010 at 11:33 pm


“i would rather see the energy go into correcting institutional structures to prevent this from happening than symbolic displays of penance over the past.”
Symbolism is a powerful thing. Recall the events in the days after the 9/11 attack. President Bush makes a visit to Ground Zero and gives a brief speech. Did he actually help fix any of the numerous crises that were breaking in that area? No. Yet the image of him standing there telling the rescue worker that he can sure hear him is one of the most powerful images in the aftermath of that terrible event, and it did a lot to improve national morale, and especially the morale of the workers at that site.
Yes, some will view the act of penance by a Bishop as simply theater, and they will not be happy until a pound of flesh is provided. But others will look upon it as actions that match the words that have been spoken regarding sorrow for the situation.
Gerard, it is impossible to please everyone. But, imagine if you will for just a moment the power of the image of the Pope, dressed in all black, seated beneath the Crucifix during a mass of penance, listening to the accusatory words of victims spoken to him. What would that image say to the world, to the victims and families, to the faithful Catholics who seek healing?
Theater…definitely, for the same could be done in private, and may well have been done many times without our knowledge. Yet it is powerful, heart-rending imagery that speaks more than a few million words could ever say.



report abuse
 

Laura Engle

posted April 21, 2010 at 12:11 am


I’m new and very much still state of grace and bliss of having been called into full communion with the Church.
It’s a strange time to be entering the Church, but I definitely know I was called into full communion and I even think maybe because of the time. I don’t know. The sex scandals of priests have been the furthest thing from my mind. Praying the rosary, encountering a deepening experience with the Eucharist are foremost. I’m clear that this is a family. My family. And I’m very proud of the Church, its witness to the world and all the good that has been done by the faithful through Jesus Christ.
But as I pursue this new relationship and get to know new brothers and sisters, I am aware of the baggage and pain some carry. Furthermore, as I am being introduced to the sacraments and the incredible power of the liturgy and witness the rites that we lead our children through and the role that they play in liturgy, I then feel the gravity of this issue and the weight of the sin. Church is where children learn about God. To have them suffer abuse from the Church is to interfere with the most important relationship they will ever have.
What kind of sin is that? To rob someone simultaneously of both their innocence and their trust in the Church and, by its representation, God? I’ve been asking myself this. What kind of penance would make sense? Lying prostrate, paying fines? It doesn’t seem like enough. It would be better to have millstones now around our necks.
I think that the clergy actually know this and that is why their response has been so insubstantial. We can’t be sorry enough to restore what the victims lost.
Just as in a families where the entire system needs to heal. We need to admit that we need help, ask God for restoration, take a good look at all the harm that has been done, admit it, be willing to be different, continue to make amends and then seek the daily renewal and healing that only God can bring.



report abuse
 

Antoinette

posted April 21, 2010 at 1:34 am


when the frst round of the scandal broke out in the early part of the decade, two priest in our parish did just that, lay prostrate, renewed vows. It was impressive, but that is not what people want. They want action – quick removal of the offending priest from the priesthood, criminal charges brought, and even evaluations of existing priests for sexual health issues that brought the scandal on us.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm


Hey! Threatening the “gotcha” folks with the sixth rang of Hell seems to have worked – I’ve actually been able to post today without resorting to that ridiculous audio thin-gummy.
There is, I think, something to be said for shaming somebody into taking action.
We already know that the least involved of all the ordained were the deacons and yet – looking at blogs and newspapers and journals in Italian, German, English and the occasional stern rebuke in Latin – the deacons have been far out ahead of everybody else in the male Catholic church in calling for an end to the abuse.
When, now, those upon whom the guilt falls least are out there making public displays, perhaps their intended audiences aren’t (only) the rest of us Christians, but their own fellow ordained…
Just a thought.



report abuse
 

Susan Hagen

posted April 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm


All of these gestures are both theatrical and pointless. What they need to do is in the nature of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation process. EVERY bishop, cardinal and the pope need to search their memories and files and make a full, public declaration of how they were complicit in covering up the abuse. Files should be opened to the civil authorities, bishops need to bare their necks to the lawsuits brought by victims. Those who covered up the crimes of predators should resign or be removed from their positions. People like Bernard Law, Sodano, the Irish bishops named in the inquiry, other flagrantly guilty bishops should be invited to withdraw to a monastery to live a life of penance. Nothing less is going to be a satisfactory response.



report abuse
 

chevy956

posted April 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Bishops like Law, Sodano, the Irish crew and any others should be invited- to criminal prosecution for conspiracy to commit felony and misprision of felony. They will get a taste in prison of what they inflicted on others.



report abuse
 

Fr. Tim Moyle

posted April 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm


Super idea! I will share it with my own Bishop as we are walking through our own stormy times right now thanks to previous administrations not following the stated policy of the Canadian Church.
Thank you!!!
Fr. Tim Moyle
Diocese of Pembroke
http://www.frtimmoyle.blogspot.com



report abuse
 

Fr. Tim Moyle

posted April 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm


Super idea! I will share it with my own Bishop as we are walking through our own stormy times right now thanks to previous administrations not following the stated policy of the Canadian Church.
Thank you!!!
Fr. Tim Moyle
Diocese of Pembroke
http://www.frtimmoyle.blogspot.com



report abuse
 

JTA

posted April 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm


I think this is a remarkable idea. What healing might result, and what a witness to the Church and the world ! It has crossed my mind before that something like this should happen.
I’m only a seminarian, but I vote a resounding “yes” !



report abuse
 

Andre John

posted April 22, 2010 at 1:44 am


Sir, i have to confess, i attended private all-boys Jesuit High School, and i was slapped/touched on the butt, molested by a priest…
SORRY if i still feel and believe that pedophile priests/pastors are the worst hypocrites of all hypocrites, and i think they should be punished by G-d’s JUSTICE!
Finally, I believe that these sexual scandals are not about sexual orientation, it is about graver & deadlier sins of sexual DEVIANCY – we should hate them PEDOPHILE priests/pastors.
May G-d have mercy on us. “2012” is just two years from now. SHALOM!



report abuse
 

annamae

posted April 22, 2010 at 9:22 am


This show is worthless without some action. The involved priests AND the bishops who covered for them need to be removed from service and sent to jail. Without some real punishment, things are never going to change. Group penance for the sin, jail time for the crime.



report abuse
 

Robert-Paul LeMay

posted April 22, 2010 at 11:07 am


If it would be feasible? I wonder if in the past any confessor said to the penitent, “if it is feasible?”, when he told he or she that sack clothe and ashes were the order of the day? As for the excuse that they listened to the experts, I would suggest that instead they might have gotten down on their knees and listened to the Spirit who would have surely told them what a grievous sin they were in the process of aiding and abetting as they played church politics. That is my fundamental grievance with the Vatican; its governance by politics rather than by the work of the Holy Spirit. A most glaring example is how the Church in collusion with the racist U.S. government saw to it that the American Southwest was denied both Chicano clergy and bishops. There are any number of reasons for all of us, clergy and laity, to do public penance for a multitude of sins in this country.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted April 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm


Ah, but, Robert-Paul LeMay,
If we begin looking at the difference between Christ’s teaching and Catholic dealing, we’ll very quickly have to answer questions like:
How come the conservative Catholics support Newt Gingerich – he left his wife, dying of cancer for another woman.
Or John McCain – his wife held to him through all the long, dark years of his captivity. When he came back, he dumped her ass and married a beautiful, rich woman. Seems wife number one had stupidly gone and had a car accident while he was gone, leaving her no longer young, beautiful and desirable.
Or Ronny Rayguns. Goodness, his divorce and remarriage may have been a while here…to listen to the conservatives around here, he’s still The Moral Guide.
Or how about David Vitter, the darling of all conservatives…
I could go on and on and on and on and the simple fact would remain:
All those stupid things that dumb Jew said a few thousand years ago which get in the way of political power are purely optional.
He was only a Jew, after all. I mean, it’s not like he was a Saint or something…
Seriously, everytime someone here says my faithful, true, monogamous, loyal and loving marriage is a sin dragging down society’s moral fiber, I want to ask them:
And all those divorced politicians you support?
Your support for the death penalty?
Your fight against health reform?
Your kicking children out of Catholic kindergarden because you don’t like their parents?
The knee-jerk support for torture?
Nope, all that matters is attacking gays and women who dare to chose what they do with their own bodies. Everything else is secondary to political gain…especially if good-ole’ what’s-his-name, that Jewish guy said it.



report abuse
 

Kerberos

posted April 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm


## Seems to me that some such step is an absolute necessity – but a mere expression of sorrow, however sincere, is not enough; not if the culture and attitudes that made this whole foul business possible stay in place.
The proposal is a very good one, but unless the bishops and members of the Curia can see that, and are prepatred to change, it hasn’t a hope of getting anywhere; how, humanly speaking, can patterns of behaviour which have “worked” for centuries be changed quickly ? Any real change means – change. And Rome “thinks in centuries”, asthe saying goes; which is not a good pace to go at, when repentance/conversion is called for.
ISTM that the deacon being quoted is “crying for the moon” – but see: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2010/04/quote-of-day_11.html



report abuse
 

Deacon Don

posted April 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm


All of the hand wringing over episcopal penance thus far has produced more smoke than light, as far as I’m concerned. How about deacons around the world redoubling efforts to lead our bishops by example in speaking back to them through our lives these words they once spoke to us:
Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you are.
Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and PRACTICE WHAT YOU TEACH.



report abuse
 

Concepta

posted April 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm


An excellent inspired idea. I’m ready to join in. After all, the diocesan bishop is my spiritual father, so I should be with him too. Thanks for reminding us that deacons accompanied their bishops to martyrdom. Wow. I wonder if this is what those women want who are clamoring for deaconship? :-)



report abuse
 

Father Time

posted September 5, 2010 at 6:08 pm


How about the bishops displaying true humility? Why don’t they do the full Amende Honorable, with a torch in their hand, barefoot, wearing a simple white linen shirt, and a hangman’s halter around their necks? Yes, and they should publicly confess their sins, thus attired, kneeking on a platform before their own congregations.



report abuse
 

Peacewithin2

posted September 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm


There is many belief’s in the world. Jesus said,” You will know them by their fruits”. There is only one way to Heaven, through the blood of Jesus Christ.” Ye must be born again”. Spiritual birth is when you have repented of your sins, and follow Jesus DAILY in your life. There is many religious people, (many are called) those that truly want to follow Jesus will be saved (few are chosen). Jesus said”,Many will say to me in that day, have we not done many wonderful works”, he will reply,” Depart I never know you”.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.