What are your sins?

By Anita Patel.

Walking to confession

Bless us Father

two by two in checked pinafores

and straw hats – glad to escape

out of the classroom into the sunshine…

just a short stroll to where you are waiting

to forgive us…

For we have sinned

mocking Sister Mary Immaculata’s

bum wobble and lying to our mothers

and smoking in the toilets and swigging

from a stolen bottle of Blackberry Nip…

We have sinned flaunting

our scarlet lips and boob tubes

and glittery toe nails and hot pants…

We have sinned hopping into panel vans,

hitching up our sports tunics

and unbuttoning our blouses to lure

hapless boys…

These are our sins…

But what are your sins dear Father –

sitting behind the shuttered

window in that dark cupboard

listening to our girlish misdemeanours,

mumbling benedictions

and handing out Hail Marys like bitter pills

to cure us of our badness?

What are your sins?

Have you confessed them?

And can they be instantly forgotten

walking back to school on a sunny Tuesday?


The conviction of George Pell prompted the writing of my poem:

“What Are Your Sins?” (on the following page)

Note from the author:

I was raised by a devoutly Catholic mother and sent to Catholic schools. I was not surprised by the uncovering of systemic sexual child abuse in the Catholic Church but it did make me reflect on so many moments of my childhood and my teenage years. The fact that the highest ranked Catholic in the land has been convicted of this crime is mind blowing – not because I have any doubt of his guilt but because this patriarchal institution is finally being called to account for its deeds.

How many priests who heard our confessions had so much more to confess?

Finally this narrative is being retold.