Who Should Confess, and Who Absolve?

Our own Peter Manseau has a powerful piece in the Washington Post today, which brings his own mother’s experience with sex abuse at the hands of a priest to bear on the crisis today:

Before we left the priest’s wake, I knelt beside the casket with my mother. I have no doubt she prayed for the man’s eternal soul, for the healing of the church, for the well-being of the pope and the bishops. I did not pray so much as sigh with relief: Finally, forgiveness was not hers to ask for; it was hers to give.

If the Vatican truly wants to do penance, absolution should not be sought in the secrecy of the confessional but in the open air of the pews. And instead of “we Christians,” the pope would do well to begin his act of contrition as I’m sure my mother began hers long ago: “My God, I am sorry.”

Peter’s mother’s case is also a reminder of just how troubling and false is the Vatican’s insistence that homosexuality is to blame for all their troubles.

There’s much more where that came from in Peter’s extraordinary memoir of his family’s unusual relationship with the Church, pre- and post-Vatican II, Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son.