March 10-12, 2000
volume 11, no. 50
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CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial for the weekend of March 10-12, 2000

Love means wanting to say you're sorry for Christ's sake!

        Is it just us, or are others out there wondering why the Roman Catholic Church is only one of the few entities apologizing for sins of the past? Last week the president of Indonesia Abdurrahman Wahid publicly apologized to the people of East Timor for the terrible atrocities againt hundreds of thousands Catholics by Muslim militia and the Indonesia army. Also last week Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush formally apologized to Roman Catholics for not capitalizing on the opportunity to speak out against anti-Catholicism while speaking at the bigoted Bob Jones University. And this weekend the Pope will make an unprecedented formal apology when he asks God's forgiveness on behalf of the universal Church for past human discretions by members of the Church. It must be made clear it is not the Church who stands as the sinner, but the members of the Church over the ages. The Church itself remains pure in fulfillment of the charge Jesus gave her through Peter for Christ has sent His Spirit - the Holy Spirit to be with His Church and the Sanctifier cannot err. Yet man can and that is what His Holiness John Paul II is emphasizing in making amends for misdeeds committed by humans in the name of the Church such as unauthorized abuses during the Inquisition, misuse of their office by clergy over the centuries which the majority of the time were political motives rather than spiritual, and Catholics' persecution of Protestant and Jew over the past 500 years. While we join the Pope in saying we are deeply sorry for any kind of persecution in the name of Our Lord, it would seem pretty one-sided. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more stepped up to the plate and sincerely asked for forgiveness?

        Think about it. What if the Supreme Pontiff's universal apology this Sunday caused a domino effect around the world? What if Slobodan Milosevic stood up and apologized to the people of Kosovo and Albania, not to mention Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia? What if Beijing spoke out and apologized for persecuting the underground Catholic Church in China and offered to bring the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church in union with Rome and recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan? What if China apologized to Europe and Russia for Genghis Khan? What if the Russian Orthodox Patriarch apologized to John Paul II for treatment of Catholics after the czars and the confiscation of so many Roman Catholic properties and offered to reunite with Rome? Ditto for the Greek Orthodox Church? What if Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland sincerely embraced each other and said "We're sorry" and England blessed the apology by allowing that area to be annexed as part of a united Republic of Ireland? What if Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak embraced in true recognition of each other's cultures and agreed to coexist peacefully with total trust? It would be reminiscent of what all had hoped for when Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin tried to bring about peace. But this time both Palestine and Israel would assure it would work! They would assure their peoples that both nations could live in peace! What if Egypt apologized for the conduct of the pharaohs against Moses and the Jews? What if the Muslims in Africa were to ask forgiveness and allow Christians to live in peace throughout the dark continent?

        What if Fidel Castro apologized to his people for keeping them impoverished in a communist system that has never worked? What if Spain apologized to Mexico for the killing and looting of the Aztecs in their conquests? What if Saddam Hussein apologized to Iran, and vice versa and both to the United States and Israel for calling them the "great satan?" What if Syria, Iran and Iraq apologized to Israel for the Babylonian exile of her people? What if Turkey apologized to the Jews and then the Greeks apologized to Persia for Alexander the Great's conquests? What if Greece asked forgiveness for the conquests by Troy and Sparta. What if the Roman government apologized for the actions of many of its emperors for persecuting Christians and usurping Jewish lands? What if Austria apologized to the Church for Charles V and his killing of countless Catholics during the Protestant revolt? What if France apologized to Rome and the rest of Europe for the ruthlessness of the little general Napoleon Bonaparte? What if France asked forgiveness of England for the 100 Year War and vice versa? What if England apologized for the actions of some of its monarchs, most notably King Henry VIII his illegitimate daughter Queen Elizabeth and King George III? What if Saudi Arabia, Northern Africa and Turkey apologized for their treatment of Christians and the crusaders? What if Russia apologized for Lenin, Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin and Germany asked forgiveness for the Bismark and Adolf Hitler? What if North Korea apologized to South Korea and vice versa? What if India asked forgiveness of Pakistan and vice versa? What if Japan apologized to the United States for bombing Pearl Harbor and involving America in World War II in the Pacific? What if the United States apologized to Vietnam and to the young men of America for embroiling them in the swamps of Southeast Asia in a culture Americans still don't fully understand?

        What if one of those, who didn't serve, Bill Clinton made a sincere apology to the citizens of the United States for misleading them by his immoral behavior? What if he admitted his terrible error of supporting abortion and vowed to make amends by appointing pro-life judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade? What if Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore concurred and said that whatever amends Clinton couldn't achieve during the remaining months of his presidency, he would follow through to complete it if he were elected? What if John McCain apologized to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for labeling them "merchants of evil?" What if Bob Jones III apologized to Catholics and African Americans for the slurs and epithets his grandfather, father and he has been preaching at his private university in South Carolina? What if Sinead O'Connor apologized personally to the Pope for her disdain for him? What if Ted Kennedy apologized to the Church and women for his disregard for Church laws and the dignity of womanhood as God intended? What if Matt Damon, Chris Rock, Ben Affleck and the rest apologized for appearing in that dog "Dogma" produced by a supposedly Catholic? What if Michael Eisner apologized to not only Walt Disney but to the millions of people who he has led astray by altering the image and content of one of America's icons that once stood for decency and family values? What if Jack Valenti stood up and apologized for leading America's youth astray by abolishing the vanguard of censorship - the Catholic Legion of Decency? What if every Hollywood actor, director, writer, and crew member apologized for promoting material that goes against the Ten Commandments? What if liberal judges apologized for overturning Partial Abortion Bans? What if ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and all the rest apologized for promoting a decline of values gauged only on the almighty dollar and pledged to return quality programming? What if the news media asked forgiveness for slanting the news?

        What if gays and lesbians asked forgiveness for touting a sinful lifestyle, which is contrary to God's law and Will? What if these same gays and lesbians apologized to priests and bishops like Cardinal John J. O'Connor and Cardinal Thomas Winning who they have unfairly labeled as insensitive homophobes and out of touch and a danger to society because of their purported intolerance to gays? What if they apologized for denigrating the retiring New York archbishop for desecrating St. Patrick's? What if die-hard southerners apologized to Blacks for their treatment of them during the slavery years? What if American immigrants apologized to Native Americans for their treatment of the Indians since the formers' arrival in America? What if Protestants apologized to Irish and Italian Catholics for their persecution and harassment of them in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth? What if the CIA apologized for their covert responsibilities for the assassination of John F. Kennedy? What if other assassins came forward and apologized for the murder of men like Mahatma Ghandi, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Anwar Sadat and several other leaders? What if Republicans asked forgiveness of Democrats and vice versa? What if Jews everywhere apologized to the Church for their maligning the holy Sovereign Pontiff Pope Pius XII?

        And what about within the Church? What if We are church, Call to Action, catholics for a free choice, and likeminded dissidents were willing to apologize for not following the true tenets of Vatican II, for undermining the authority of the Pope and the Magisterium of the Church, for leading so many "weak sheep" astray by confusing and planting unfounded doubts, and for badmouthing good bishops, priests and orthodox lay leaders while promoting platforms that the Holy Father said are closed subjects and not up for discussion? What if ultra-right groups such as the St. Pius X Society were to apologize to Rome for straying? What if modernist theologians in Catholic universities in America such as Fr. Richard McBrien and others were to apologize for not following the latest regulations outlined in Ecclesia Corda and would comply immediately? What if liberal liturgists were to ask forgiveness for removing the tabernacles and watering down the ritual of the Mass by replacing the traditional statues and architecture with stark, sterile buildings and trappings that more resemble Protestant churches? What if ICEL were to beg forgiveness of the United States Bishops Conference for leading them astray and vow to be true to the Latin and Greek translations of Scripture? What if religious orders and nuns apologized for removing their traditional habits in favor of more modern clothes and pledged to return to the humble dress of their vocations? What if seminary directors asked forgiveness for not adhering to true Church teaching and allowing less than favorable students who did not manifest true piety to be promoted?

        What if...well by now you get the idea. These are basically all utopian hopes that most probably would never happen. Wouldn't it be great if they did? But rather than saying "it's no use," the Holy Father is forging ahead in true humility. Yet there are still many factions who "demand" the Church apologize. First of all, when one demands an apology sincerity flies out the window. It's called pressure, not free will. The Holy Father is under no pressure to apologize for the Church's sins of the past. He does so willingly and he does so out of true sincerity in an effort to bring harmony and peace to a world so devoid of true love. We should follow by willingly asking forgiveness of all who we may have offended in our lifetime and conversely forgive those who have lambasted us or persecuted us, our family and our Faith. We do so in the spirit the Holy Father is advocating and in union with Our Lord's words in Matthew 5: 21-26 about making amends with our brothers and sisters. And so, we extend the olive branch to our brothers and sisters of every nationality, faith and color the world over. The Pope has proven to be a saintly pioneer in dismissing the theory that "Love means never having to say you're sorry." That was made famous in that sixties movie "Love Story" which helped usher in the me-generation. Now, in the new millennium the Holy Father wants to promote a new Love Story: Love means wanting to say you're sorry for Christ's sake!

Michael Cain, editor

For previous editorials this year, go to PAST CATHOLIC PewPOINTS

March 10-12, 2000
volume 11, no. 50

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