The Anchoress informs me of an incredible suggestion:
So here is my question for you. What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents before each Mass on the weekend closest to the feast of St.Peter and Paul or on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some other appropriate day or days? Or, even better, on the first Friday of every month for the next year starting with the feast of the Sacred Heart or Sts.Peter and Paul? And what if we, as their deacons, as an order in the Church, in all humility, not only called on our bishops to do public penance, but offered to join them in it?
To those who do not understand Catholicism this might not seem like much but within the Church it would be earth shattering, and the suggestion of inclusion of the laity is even better:
As a lay person, I would participate in this prostration, with my pope, my bishops and priests and all the rest. I would participate as a means of communicating to the victims that I have heard them and that I am united to them, angry for them and ashamed on their behalf, and also to express to the whole world that I too am a sinner, in need of mercy. I would prostrate myself as to express unity with the clergy and religious, that they are no more outside of redemption than the rest of us, that they are valued and their healing is as necessary to the Body of Christ as is the healing of the victims.
My participation would also demonstrate my intention to remain within this injured body, contributing to both its weakness and its strengths, because I know my redeemer lives, and that we all shall rise again.
Count me in.