penance without justice = meaningless

So Benedict wants Catholics to do penance for the sins of the Church. It reminds me of the passage from Amos, when God is saying how meaningless the prayers and rituals of the priests are, because as they continue to pray they “afflict the righteous… and push aside the needy in the gate.”

God has some pretty harsh words for them:

“I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5)

The clergy of the institutional church need to do their own penance, and it needs involve more than half-hearted apologies and promises to do better.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI spoke on Thursday of the need for the faithful to do “penance” in light of “the attacks of the world that talks to us of our sins,” in an off-the-cuff portion of a homily that was his most direct reference to the sex abuse crisis that has focused on the Vatican itself.

“Now under the attacks of the world that talks to us of our sins, we see that the ability to perform penance is a grace and we see how it is necessary to perform penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our life,” he added.
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