A Case Study in the Theology of Apology

September 2005

The pundits have been busily dissecting Pope John Paul II's long pontificate, sifting through statistics, charting his myriad foreign tours, parsing his every written word -- all in an effort to determine John Paul's proper place in ecclesial history. And some rather interesting angles have been taken in this regard.

Among those entering the fray is David Gibson, who, in a Religion News Service article printed in The Catholic Voice (April 11), the paper of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., attempts to make sense of what he terms John Paul's "theology of apology." According to Gibson, John Paul made his first reference to the "errors and excesses" of the Church in 1982, in regard to the Inquisition, for which he officially apologized in 1983. Thus began a long string of apologies to various groups for various "offenses" (to Muslims in 1985, to Africans and Jews in 1986, to women for their "humiliation" and "marginalization" in 2000, again for the Inquisition in 2000, to the Orthodox in 2001, yet again for the Inquisition in 2004, etc.). Gibson quotes Vatican correspondent Luigi Accattoli, in his book When a Pope Asks Forgiveness, who figures that by 1998 there had been "no fewer than 94 occasions at which John Paul apologized for some past action of the Church, and their legacy in the present." By the time of his death seven years later, one can safely assume that John Paul's apologies numbered in excess of one hundred.

The intent of these apologies, however, is somewhat murky, and the results ambiguous. If they were intended to ingratiate the Church to her crotchety critics, they have largely not achieved their objective. "These papal acts of penance," says Gibson, may in fact have "made matters worse," particularly in the case of the ever-sensitive Jewish community, which "was disturbed" that John Paul would "apologize on the one hand and then promote sainthood" for such "controversial" figures as Pope Pius XII. Likewise, observes Gibson, many women felt that John Paul's apologies to them were "empty" without subsequent "reforms" that would give women "a greater role and voice in the male-dominated leadership."

Interestingly, among the groups not to receive a float in John Paul's apology parade were homosexuals and the victims of clerical sexual abuse. As for the latter, John Paul did "strongly condemn such abuse," reports Gibson, though he neglected to offer them a mea culpa on behalf of the Church, as he did for the indigenous people of Santo Domingo in 1984. Rather, this task was left to the U.S. bishops, collectively and individually, where specific bishops felt it necessary to do so.

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New Oxford Notes: September 2005

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A great topic and nicely explored, too. We are fighting Marxism in its many forms -- all aimed at subduing and undoing Western civilization, which, of necessity, includes the Catholic Church.

As Lenin once, said you do not engage your opponents in intellectual debate, you wipe them from the face of the earth. As just one example, we see Congress today doing just that and have seen it at the academic level for decades.

Yet, we still have too many people in authority, from the churches to the legislatures, who are stuck in the '50s when contentious business negogiations were the nastiest of encounters and, after which, both sides coexisted. This is not going to happen with the mad Marxist and his Muslim allies. They will wipe us from the face of the earth if our condescending actions and sycophantic words are still seen as a worthwhile and productive.
Posted by: j17ghs
September 13, 2007 11:54 AM EDT
It is amazing how so many people in authority - both in the church and in congress (republicans at least)- yield to the pressure of the press and activists. It is natural to want to be loved but no one in either the church or politics is ignorant of the fact that we have an anti-religious, anti-American press and that they will pursecute those that stand on principle and traditional values. How we got to this point I do not know although one needs only look at our school systems to see such rot in the words and actions of many so-called educators. Our Bishops need to sit back, take a breath, and start practising what they (should) teach. One can handle adversity when dealing with these miscreants if you stick to principle. Waver,as Bishop Brom has done (and many others) and your goose is cooked as they say. The real losers are the faithful and those looking for leadership and guidance. The Secular Progressives are taking this country down and if Catholics don't start acting like Catholics we are in trouble. Posted by: wunsch
September 13, 2007 01:27 PM EDT
The Church is vastly compromised by sodomite priests, sodomite bishops, blackmail relating to sodomy, an inability to take on sodomy activists, and an inability to teach our youth why sexual perversion is wrong. Frankly, I don't trust any priest anymore around boys. I rarely trust priests to speak to my children about sexual morality - or homosexuality.

The Vatican's decree forbidding the ordination of homosexuals will simply be ignored in many places in America.

After the homomolestation of some 10,000 teenage boys in the Church in America in the last few decades, and thousands more elsewhere (like in Ireland) and what's going on in society, you'd think the leaders of the church would now understand why the Bible tells us that sodomy is an abomination. But most of them cannot even speak about it - so afraid are they.

We deserve better. Is the Church on the side of God or parents with regard to sexual morality - or not? I'm not sure anymore. Really, I'm not.

Posted by: luke
September 13, 2007 04:18 PM EDT
Accommodation of secular mores by the church have always caused grief and destruction. In the Catholic church there is no cause for despair. Many protestant groups have completely overthrown their basic tenets on sexuality. The Catholic church has not nor has the Holy Father. And for every accommodater and deviant in holy orders there are thousands of priests who struggle though they feel alone in the struggle. We should not be timid in expressing our support for these faithful priests and pray mightily for their fortitude and faith. This can be turned around but only if the faithful are not fearful. Posted by: martillo
January 25, 2008 10:40 AM EST
Forget us crying out homosexuality is a sin. Let God handle it in the confessional and hereafter. If I divorce my wife and remarry does everyone go around pointing their finger and calling me a sinner. No!

We cannot be like the major media or homosexual activists promoting homosexuality as ok and normal.

Homosexuality must be addressed as a "health issue". It must be the compassionate , common sense caring for another person.

The facts are these kids are dying as early as their teens. Many hang on somehow into their 30's,40's and 50's. They are infected by HIV due to their promiscuous sexual activities through Anal and Oral sex. Visit the Center of Disease Control web site to read about the cause of HIV. Not only are they dying in their youth but those who make it are raked with other ailments like cancer, incontinence, STD's, heart disease, liver disease as their immune systems gradually deteriorate. Death certificates cover up and list heart attack when their body is teeming with AIDS.

The health risks to the general population will occur as HIV homosexual weakened immune systems are susceptible to deadly diseases like MRSA skin infections leading to death even and easily spread to all.

Partners are not always told by the infected HIV person resulting in what may be called willful or unwillful murder.

Who pays for treatment of the now reduced to indigent homosexual --the general population.

Homosexuality is a major health problem and we should not be letting these kids die.

Does anyone in this world really care about a Homosexual? Are we going to continue let them kill themselves and others all the while ignoring and hoping the consequences go away?

Political Correctness be darned as lives are at stake both Homosexuals with HIV/AIDS and potentially the whole population with drug resistant contagion diseases passed on by Homosexuals.
Posted by: paulc37
January 25, 2008 03:21 PM EST
Apologies to homosexuals? For what? Trying to save their souls? STUPIDITY REIGNS! Posted by: gespin3549
August 14, 2008 11:28 AM EDT
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