In honor of my recent release, Living the Prayer of Jesus: A Study of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, I felt I wanted to do something to help us all, more consciously, live the message of Jesus today. The following Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI was what came to me…
Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI…
Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. Matthew 25:45
I am an interfaith minister in New Hampshire, USA, and I am blessed to serve as Presiding Minister of our Tree of Life Interfaith Temple. I am little known outside my community here but, oh, do I have an ever expanding and abiding love for Jesus and for the teachings that first elicited the blessed ecstatic cry, birthing Christianity. On our Temple’s wall hangs a portrait of Mother Teresa whom I have always considered my spiritual teacher and guide. So, although I am not a Catholic, I have, with you, a deep and sustaining connection to the heart of Jesus. This is why I am writing today.
I am reaching out to you with an idea – an idea that could invite many Catholics and other fellow Christians to walk, even more succinctly, in the footsteps of Jesus and to serve the least of these, in ways we can only yet imagine. Whereas I am little known, you, Sir, are the most well known spiritual leader in our world. You have the power to do what others may not. So, I ask of you, What if? What if you were to lead the Catholic Church community in responding to the ever pervasive accounts, now worldwide, of abuse of children by priests, by declaring the following:
If just one child has been hurt by our lack of awareness, over site or mismanagement; If just one child has been hurt while serving in our trusted care, indeed, it is one too many. So, unified, we rise up as the living body of Christ, ready to respond as we know our Lord Jesus Christ would have us respond.
Starting Immediately, all the major parishes of our Catholic Church, worldwide, will join with their local mental health professionals to create and sustain, free to the public, centers of healing for all those children and adult children who have been victims of sexual abuse by priests and others. Furthermore, these healing centers will also offer programs to provide care for the perpetrators of abuse, priests and others, for our Lord has said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” We will welcome all, victims and perpetrators, into the heart of our Lord through our open doors and we will soothe the wounds of the suffering with the living balm of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know many thoughtful and conscientious Catholic clergy and lay people have worked tirelessly in their communities to respond to the heart wrenching cry for help by so many. But, you as leader, are in the fortuitous position to truly begin to transform the depth of this human suffering. You have an opportunity to bring the living balm of Jesus to touch and to heal the countless wounded souls worldwide.
And, with such opportunity comes clear responsibility and accountability. I challenge you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to do as He would do, to serve as He would serve, to ignite a passion for answering His charge: love one another as I have loved you and, in doing so, to bring the living balm of Christ Jesus to heal the world. Know, as well, that I stand ready to support the devout and loving Catholics in our community in answering your charge. We are all children of the living God, after all.
I believe Jesus would expect no less of us.
As Mother Teresa once said, “I never say ‘no’ to Jesus.” As a result, her healing ministry touched the world. Will you do the same?