I’m in. I don’t know what it will be yet. But I’m in.
Take a look at this entry at The Deacon’s Bench. It was a proposal by a Deacon Charles Rohrbacher. He is suggesting that while bishops say they are sorry right and left about the clerical sexual abuse of children, and their own role in that abuse, people are not entirely impressed or convinced.
The deacon has a suggestion.
Here is an excerpt, but I suggest that you read the whole piece. I am adding a little emphases and a comment.
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? [OORAH!]
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.
I’m in. I will figure out some penance to do on a regular basis. The whole Church needs to do penance publicly.
Bishops and deacons and priests who never committed any of those horrid crimes need to do penance as well. We need to do this as a body.
Perhaps we can bring this to another level.
I think this is on the right track. Along with my own proposal of a true renewal of our worship, this should be another component.