To the Editor:
I have read the entirety of Bishop Thomas Zinkula’s recent letter to the people of the Diocese of Davenport “in calling all of us to devote ourselves to prayer and penance in a particular way on the Fridays of September.”
This call to acts of prayer and penance has been echoed by other bishops. As this was addressed to all the laity of the diocese, as well as diocesan clergy, I must with all respect ask: “Why?” Lay people were not the ones who perpetrated the abuse and they were not the ones who covered it up. This seems to me instead to be a sackcloth-and-ashes moment for all the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church.
This is not to be off-loaded to the lay people in the pews who are increasingly traumatized by the revelations of abuse of power by so many. More heartbreaking revelations will surely be forthcoming in light of other states’ attorney general investigations.
Many of the vile abuses that occurred in this diocese, and the cover-ups, were somewhat dealt with 15 years ago so many have forgotten them. But the victims have certainly not forgotten them. There needs to be a sincere action by all of those in seats of power in the American church, including bishops who may not have been complicit. Why? Because they sit in seats that were part of the problem and the power of the role also carries the terrible burden of the past. That is the nature of responsibility. Bishops: do not ask us to do penance, show us your conversion.
Mary Lu Callahan