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An Open Letter From Father Benedict

I think it’s safe to say that we are all appalled by what happened on Saturday. What was meant to be a moment for us to come together in peace and unity was instead the scene of great upheaval. We completely forgot about the lost young woman whose face stared out at us, that likeness captured in some much happier and more hopeful moment. We ceased to care when we spat venom and threw punches at one another, and though I’m sure some of you must be saying it’s a disgrace to the city that it happened, that’s not exactly true. Or, I should say, it’s not precise enough... I need you to know -and please believe me this is hard for me to say- that the disgraced one here is me. If anyone should be ashamed for what happened, it’s me.

I do understand that my words were prone to misinterpretation. I never set out to sow so much discord. A very long time ago it was my honest desire to try to help people and provide them with spiritual guidance. As a recovering addict, it was God who turned my life around and gave me purpose, and I devoted everything, everything to this cause. But I fell into the hands of some truly wicked people whom I let destroy my faith in God and in humanity. As a result I know for a fact that there are problems within the clergy. I know it so very well. Yet here I am acting at cross-purposes, because there's a thorn in my heart I want everyone to feel, even though you, Santa Ramona, are the people who are healing me.

I did something terrible. Or more appropriately, I failed to act as something terrible happened, and a great portion of the rioting on Saturday was because of it. I let someone very close to me get hurt, and rather than continue to fight for them something snapped in me and I was thrown all the way back to the hopelessness and helplessness of my past. You know who you are. I wanted to save you, I really did, but I just didn’t know how. So I chose my poison and fell off the wagon well and truly if I ever still had a foot on it. I prayed for you. You're the only thing I pray for.

And I still look for you. I still need you. The same can be said for God Himself, and I suppose that is why with my faith as fraught and brittle and pathetic as it is I continue humbly to officiate. But I wish I was a better friend, a better priest, a better person. I am so very sorry that I am not.