This is something we need to hear right now, from Elizabeth Scalia, who eloquently and incisively answers those who think the innocent laity don’t necessarily need to make reparations for the guilty clergy:
Recently on Twitter a friend questioned why layfolk should be charged to take up any bit of the work of penance when the great sins that have roiled us originated with priests and bishops. I could only answer that the white blood cells cannot refuse to do their job against an infected heart and still expect the Body to heal. Or, as St. Paul put it in 1 Corinthians, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’ Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary.”
The whole Body of Christ needs to work for its restoration just as one’s whole body must be engaged with any therapeutic action. Perhaps that is why the interior work I have been doing, so familiar, has given rise to this other, newer, feeling of wanting to reach outward, to face my co-religionists—at Mass and in Church basements and on the street—and say, “Let’s courageously suffer a little bit, together, for her sake. Let us be willing to confront in charity, to seek reparation in good faith, to (as Paul writes, this time to the Colossians) ‘instruct and admonish one another in wisdom made perfect.’”
At the moment, I am trying this at home, in small ways, because if we are to become the Church we want to see, we must begin in the home, with our families and the domestic church. What we habituate there we can then bring outside—to church, to the store, to the PTA meeting—and let it all ripple outward as God’s will and his grace allow.