28 April, 2010

Using Catholic 'tools' to begin to move on past these rocky shores! Here's a response to Mary G. who asks why we just can't 'move-on' from the Sex Abuse Scandals

Mary G:  AMEN...AMEN...AMEN! Why do you think it is that our leaders don't seem to want to do just that? I earlier posted a blog post from Deacon Greg Kandra (http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/04/a-deacons-proposal-for-public-penance.html ) calling for clerics of all ranks (either in a Diocese, Province, Country or universally) to participate in a mass of atonement on the closing Sunday of the 'Year of the Priest'. This would allow all of us to prostrate ourselves in penance before God, and in solidarity with the faithful to acknowledge our failures and sins. Then to ask for forgiveness.

I've been arguing that it is necessary for clergy to practice the same regimen of confession as any Catholic should.

1. First we should examine ourselves (institutionally and personally) in preparation for confessing. This would involve bringing in an outside expert to review any records of allegations received, to ensure that the universal protocol has been faithfully and fully implemented.

2. Confess their sins before a priest: in this case, the common priesthood of the faithful at masses celebrated on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

3. In penance, the clergy would prostrate themselves in front of God, with the assembled laity kneeling in prayer with them.

4. Then we try to move forward with a renewed sense of compassion, with trust that any future issues will be dealt with promptly and appropriately.

I harbor no illusions that this in itself will miraculously or magically make things better! As Catholics we recognize and understand the power of sign and symbol. Such a gathering would be a very 'Catholic' response to any crisis through the application of these spiritual and psychological tools. Perhaps it is this omission in the Church's response to date which continues to keep the 'barque of Peter' grounded on these rocky shores.

Fr. Tim

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