One of the traditions of the British Isles during the Yuletide season, symbolizes the legendary chaos of the universe upon the takeover of light by the darkness. The longest night of the year is marked by the role-reversal of a young boy in the town donning the bishop's robe and mitre, as he is paraded through both church and village. This annual enactment of the-world-turned-upside-down is known as "the feast of fools."
A similar ritual might be fitting to mark the upcoming bishops' conference in Washington next month. This is punctuated by a recent editorial in the National Catholic Reporter:
"With all respect for the power of prayer and the centrality of the Eucharist to the community, however, reparation for sins, the church itself teaches, does not occur magically. The sin must be named, and the sinned against, in this case the victims and the community at large, must be asked for forgiveness.Dom Bettinelli, editor of Catholic World Report, comments on his weblog of how "[T]he basic idea-- a systematic self-examination and public confession-- may be the only way for the bishops to regain any trust from the people and for them to be taken seriously in the future."
"In speaking of the 'disclosure of sins' in the sacrament of reconciliation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: 'Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the church in order to make a new future possible.'"
It has been said that as many as one-third of the bishops in the USA have participated in either committing, enabling, or conspiring to cover-up acts of clerical pedastery. It has long been this writer's contention that, as a matter of personal honor, every one of these "men" should immediately tender his resignation to the Holy See, and be prepared to accept an indefinite life of penitence, in either a contemplative or missionary setting. Whether those resignations are accepted, or even should be, is beside the point, as is the dishonest attempt to play the "spiritual father" as the pretext for refusing (as if that ever meant anything until now). There remains a critical need for these dysfunctional shepherds to show the same contrition they or their priests would demand of their penitents in the pews. To do anything less, is to lie in the face of those whose ears have been deafened, by the sounds of those sins which cry to heaven for vengeance.
There are not enough lawyers in this world to stem those cries. And in the next world, they'll be too busy fending for themselves.
As will we all.