Friday, August 10, 2012

Confessions From a Priest in Prison _ Part I

Dear Charlene,

You have been tireless in your championing the priests, innocent or guilty, and in that you are almost a voice crying in the wilderness. As the grateful recipient of your singular understanding of Christianity, I thank you.  How is it possible that nearly the whole bevy of bishops could fail in so basic a way?

You are the first to notice in print that even brother priests have generally abandoned the incarcerated. Is the veneer of Catholic morality so thin, so tenuous, that it dissolves by unspoken agreement? It may be that the bishops made some sort of pact, but surely the priests have done this on their own.

And you alone remembered that Charity is the queen of virtues. Or that Jesus Himself was at pains to require the visiting of the prisoner. Or do we have here the Unforgivable Sin which, like the Holy Grail, has had an elusive history?

You mentioned in your excellent essay: Forgiveness.  Have you seen or heard this word, this concept, applied somewhere in Catholic literature? I suggest it was stricken by the lawyers from clerical vocabulary in order to satisfy the hysteria of the mob.

You may want to think about a new problem: convicted priests who are about to reach parole dates.  They have no place to go unless their bishop intercedes.

I have a heart condition for which they want to send me to the hospital and to a specialist. I am refusing not the treatment which I want, but the ordeal. I can no longer sit on a stone bench in a cell with no magazines or books, chained around the waist, hands manacled, ankles manacled, for up to 8 hours.  I tend to fall asleep and I fear falling since I could not break my fall.  

Then too they stuff me in a metal box, sitting sideways, my long legs cramped, my back problems exacerbated, and drive off for the 45 minute horror.The wagon is similar to the ones you have seen in which they place animals who have been picked up by the dog (catcher). This ... chains and called "elderly abuse" in society.  It is called "security" in here.

Your ministry is unique. Isn't that outrageous?


                                                                       S. P. in the Fields

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