Via Email - Benedictxvi@vatican.va
Re: Penance is a Personal Choice -- Not a Public
Dear Pope Benedict:
This week's media was again filled with news relating to the clergy sex abuse crisis -- thanks to modern technology and the internet. And, as a society, we are slowly realizing that the clergy sex abuse crisis is not just a "Catholic" issue -- but an international crisis that has revealed how religious, government and political influences have interfered with the protections of precious children and vulnerable adults from sex abuse crimes.
As a cradle Catholic, with children attending Catholic schools and colleges throughout the United States, I take offense to Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa's words during a Mass this week, "... The moment has come, after the emergency, to do the most important thing of all: to cry before God".
Rev. Cantalamessa's words sent waves of confusion throughout the world and in all honesty, when did "penance" become a public relations tool?
First, the "emergency" is far from over. Second, requesting that we cry before God infers that the clergy sex abuse crisis is just a "Catholic" issue requiring "Catholic" penance. Clergy sex abuse has destroyed the lives of children and families in every religious faith in the world -- so why would Rev. Cantalamessa's preach public penance for Catholics?
What about the non-Catholic children and families who have been victimized by heinous sex crimes?
What about our society's religious, government and political failures to protect children from sex abuse crimes? Clergy sex abuse is a symptom of abuse without accountability, and Rev. Cantalamessa's words sent waves of confusion throughout the world.
Pope Benedict... with deep respect for the presence and guidance you can provide to the world as leader of the Catholic Church, public penance is NOT the answer to the clergy sex abuse crisis and should NEVER be used as a public relations tool.
There are communities of faith, Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world, that have been victimized by pain and suffering that follow sex abuse crimes. We have a duty to protect ALL children, ALL families and ALL faiths.
Tomorrow is the Third Sunday of Advent and again, I ask you to imagine the waves of peace that could fill the world in just a matter of minutes. So many continue to suffer in shame and silence, without hope for justice and peace.
Public penance is NOT the answer - and will NEVER bring peace to the world. Justice and truth will bring peace to victims and non-victims. Penance requires a full understanding of what has occurred and without truth and full disclosure, the truths will never be known -- justice and peace will be denied.
We are taught that love prevails and the world awaits peace. Please send waves of hope, faith and love throughout the world this year. Please bring public assurances to persons of ALL faiths that truth and openness will bring justice -- not punishment for speaking out with courage.
Without justice, there will never be peace. Without peace, our faith is empty. God bless you.
Debby Bodkin, Founder