Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
I didn’t really mean to. I thought I was doing the right thing. But over time I started believing it was more important to convince people I was right about what you want than to show them who you are. I became more concerned with piousness than piety. I gave you allegiance, but not submission. I invoked your name to belittle, argue, and exclude. I used your word not to heal but to attack. You asked me to be your hands and feet, but all I wanted to be was your mouthpiece.
Forgive me Sister, for I have sinned.
I thought I was following the rules. But in doing so I failed to appreciate you for all you are. I pigeonholed you into unfair and antiquated gender roles. I devalued your work, and I made matrimony and motherhood your only acceptable virtues. When you needed support, I responded with empty rituals. When you needed a strong foundation, I handed you a one-size-fits-all formula to follow. I disrespected you, objectified you, and oppressed you in countless ways.
Forgive me Brother, for I have sinned.
I took you for granted. I missed so many opportunities to engage you in conversation. Instead of celebrating your unique ability to contribute, I offered you a litany of boredom and irrelevance. When we were together, I failed to respect your particular gifts and talents and thrust you into roles for which you were not suited. When you wanted adventure, I offered chores. When you wanted meaning, I offered clichés and platitudes.
Forgive me Friend, for I have sinned.
I meant to be helpful. But I assumed you wanted the same things as me, without ever asking. I saw you through my own eyes instead of getting to know you deeply. Our relationship was little more than a consumer transaction to me. When you needed me to listen to you, I only saw ingratitude. When you needed me to help you, I demanded that you try harder. I used you for my own benefit without seeking to benefit you.
Forgive me Neighbor, for I have sinned.
You weren’t like me, so we never talked. You came from a different place, your skin was a different color, you didn’t believe the same things as me, and you loved the people I thought it was wrong for you to love. I never bothered to try to know you, because it was easier to just believe what others said about you. I wanted you to conform to my ways before I would even approach you, and I missed out on all the richness, the beauty, and the joy I could have experienced through you.
Forgive me World, for I have sinned.
I was supposed to change you. But too often I was all too easily drawn to status, power, and influence. I was supposed to bring justice, but instead I joined forces with the unjust. I offered banal, insipid answers to your deepest worries and hardest questions. I did good works on your behalf, to be sure. But too often those works came with an agenda. I wanted to be in you but not of you, so I withdrew from you rather than face your difficulties side-by-side…and I pretended I was better than you because of it.
I am the Church, and this is my confession.
Forgive me, for I have sinned.