Pray, Fast, and Penance?


The Pope and at least one Cardinal in the last few weeks have called on the laity to fast, pray, and do penance.

Sorry but why? The horrific sins, and cover-up were committed by those in the priesthood.

How about everyone in the Priesthood, from the Pope on down forgo the adornments of their office and wear burlap cassocks and ashes on their face until all those guilty are removed from the Priesthood?


You can make reparation for sins which aren’t yours. In fact, there’s a votive mass for the forgiveness of sins (although, laymen can’t offer mass).

The number of priests who’ve abused people is quite low. Certainly not all of the clergy are abusers. Don’t call on those clerics who aren’t abusers to do penance for the sins of their brother priests if you aren’t going to do penance yourself.


Are you forgetting that we are all part of one body? Even if we are not guilty of committing the horrible atrocities, our praying and fasting will help. Because God has made us all members of one body.

Also, if we’re going to go down the road of, “it’s not my fault, I shouldn’t have to make up for it,” then it also doesn’t make sense to call on everyone in the priesthood (where the vast majority are innocent) to participate.


Well now we start getting into speculation.


My original post was made in reflection of the following. I believe this letter and the letter to follow are worthy of consideration:


Lay Catholics should join in the penance to convert the whole Church, the Pope said

Pope Francis has called for all Catholics to engage in penitential prayer and fasting following the revelations of abuse in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

In a letter “to the People of God”, the Pope said Christians should join together in penance to “awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.”

“It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People,” he added.

“It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable,” he said. “Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that the Church did not act in an appropriate and timely manner to accusations of abuse, nor did it realise the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.

“May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled,” the Pope said.

“A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.”


#2: part 1of 2…

From the American Thinker-an anonymous member of the Clergy:

By Rob Dreher:

I received this from a parish priest, and post it with his permission:

“Ever since the Pennsylvania report we have been hearing bishop after bishop exhort the church to join with them in prayer and fasting for victims and for the church. We have also heard them call priests to maintain their vows of celibacy and recommit themselves to greater spiritual discipline in the face of this crisis.

As a Catholic priest, I absolutely believe in prayer, fasting, celibacy, and spiritual discipline. But in this particular instance, I believe the bishops’ call amounts to deflection from the core of the crisis, and will not solve anything nor get at the heart of the problems we face as a church.

For one thing, when bishops tell priests that they need to maintain their spiritual discipline and stay true to their vow of celibacy, they are essentially saying that every priest is a potential abuser. They are saying to every priest, “If you stop praying or stop adhering to your spiritual discipline you too might end up exploiting children.”

That’s ridiculous! That’s not how people become abusers. A person either has that psychological pathology or they do not. One of the things we need to have a serious discussion about is the connection between homosexuality and child predation. Psychology used to connect homosexual and this sexual perversion by the term ephebophilia .

What many people don’t understand about this phenomenon in the church is that in the past, a priest had almost unlimited access to children, and was implicitly trusted by everyone, even other clergy. For years no one would ever believe, or wanted to believe, that a priest would ever do such horrible things to children. But what they didn’t understand about abusers is they will do almost anything to gain access to children. And the priesthood afforded them this access and the trust to be able to be alone and groom them.


part 2 of 3:
It wasn’t until the reforms of the 2002 Dallas Charter that procedures were put into place that gave priests far less access to children. In today’s church abusers simply don’t have the opportunities that they used to have. The safe environment reforms have been a tremendous advancement for the safety of children in the church. Since 2002, incidents of child exploitation in the church have decreased dramatically. If people really want to look at the data regarding child abuse, they will find that the most dangerous place for a child is their own home and their own families.

When bishops tell the laity and clergy to fast and pray and do penance for past abuse, they are just passing the buck and spreading the blame. This is another misstep for bishops. They are calling on the church to make atonement for past sins. While I’m not denying there is value in those actions, it is not what people are principally concerned with right now.


part 3 of 3:
First of all, people want to know that their children are safe in the church. Second, they want to know that bishops are no longer covering up instances of exploitation. Third, they want to know that bishops are held accountable just like everyone else in the church if they fail in their responsibilities and also if they abuse.

To date, the bishops have spoken of doing these things, but they have not taken any concrete actions. A friend of mine asked, “Why isn’t Cardinal Wuerl on administrative leave pending an investigation into what he did or didn’t do? That would have happened to every single priest in a similar situation.” I told him the truth: “Bishops are not subject to the same rules as priests or laity in the church.”

However, Cardinal Wuerl could voluntarily agree to put himself on administrative leave and call for an investigation. He could invite the Vatican to investigate his situation. So could all of the prelates involved in the McCarrick and Pennsylvania scandals. But they won’t. The reason they won’t is because bishops want to maintain their power and do not believe they have to answer to anyone except the Holy Father. They will not do the right thing for the church and step aside to allow an independent investigation.

Again, as a priest, I certainly believe in the power of prayer. however, I am sick and tired of hearing bishops use prayer as a spiritual weapon to get themselves out of a tough spot. Furthermore, no one believes or trusts them anymore anyway. The only way back from the abyss is action.

The People of God certainly believe in the value of prayer and penance. However, what we all want is for people in power to be held accountable when they fail. To that end, there need to be bishops who willingly submit their resignations and that includes the whole lot of them. Wuerl, O’Malley, Tobin, Dolan, etc. All of them. Their credibility is gone. These guys are old, and have no time to earn back that credibility. Step aside, men, and do what is best for the church. If you do not, I hope the Holy Father will do for us what you will not.

The priest adds, in a follow-up conversation

The two things that should happen probably won’t: 1) dealing with the disproportionate number of homosexuals in the clergy and, 2)bishops actually getting fired. Neither will happen for the same reason — because they are the same people, and they have connections, and are protected. Unfortunately, I just don’t see any real change coming. The real wildcard is Francis. So far he has been quite the disappointment.


We are one body in Christ. We pray for those in Purgatory to make repararions for their sins. We see this in scripture, too (Maccabees II).

Those in the clergy who failed to handle this appropriately and those who committed sins have obviously gravely erred. We may not be personally culpable, but we are one Church, one people, one Body.


Action by the priests and Bishops is what is required. When Jesus saw what was going on in God’s temple, He didn’t turn to his disciples and say “let’s pray and fast that this evil is stopped.” He turned over the tables. He took action. That is what the hierarchy of the Church is called to do.


I agree with parts that follow this. I’m not in an administrative capacity nor have proper authority to really make decisions, but I have a sense that, while the Church has taken lots of action to prevent future abuse, really needs to respond more decisively to what happened in the past and to clergy involved in past abuses.

That said, I think it is important for the laity to participate in fasts and penance for this. Not mandatory, but spiritually good. I feel like the theology of the Church or even just a people in other contexts as one body has really eroded recently, especially in America with our individualistic mentality. The priest who wrote the article does see value in the practice.


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