March 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 48
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Homosexuals want inclusion in Vatican pardon, but Holy See not buying into motives

    VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II will lead a special penitential service on March 12, the first Sunday of Lent, in which he will ask pardon for the faults of the Catholic past.

    The ceremony, in which dozens of bishops and cardinals will participate, is one of the most important events of the Jubilee year, and one which has aroused unusual interest among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. At a press conference in Rome on March 7, Msgr. Piero Marini, the master of ceremonies for pontifical liturgies, explained the ceremony to the media.

    Msgr. Marini explained that Pope John Paul II saw the appeal for pardon as an important part of the Jubilee, and more particularly for Lent, which is a time specially dedicated to conversion. He added that the appeal for pardon would be directed toward God. "It is not a judgment on those who have gone before us," he said. He elaborated by explaining that the appeal for pardon would not be intended as an indictment of the Christians of previous eras, nor would it ignore the possibility that there were extenuating circumstances for their actions. Rather it would simply be an acknowledgment of the evil that had been done.

    "There is solidarity, even in sin, among the members of the People of God," Msgr. Marini said. "Christians do not think of themselves as better than their fathers," he continued, but wish merely to say that there were "historical errors in behavior" among Christians.

    At the beginning of the ceremony, at the entry to St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope will pray silently before Michelangelo's renowned Pieta. The symbolism of that moment suggests that, just as the Virgin Mary received the dead body of her crucified son, the Church cares for souls of sinful Christians. Next the Pope and the cardinals will enter the basilica in a "penitential procession." During that procession the Litany of the Saints will be chanted-- recognizing the saints as witnesses to the sanctity of the Church, and as intercessors for sinners.

    The confession of faults and appeal for pardon will follow the Pope's homily and the Profession of Faith. Pope John Paul will lead the recitation of this "universal prayer," accompanied by the heads of Vatican dicasteries. The recitation of faults will include sins "committed in the service of truth," such as intolerance, violence against dissidents, and religious wars. The list will also include the failings which contributed to the division of Christianity. And the prayer will acknowledge the "hostility and silence" which helped to set the scene for the Holocaust. The confession will include an acknowledgment of failure in preventing the evils of the current day, such as abortion. The listing will conclude with a general confession of faults in the spread of the Gospel-- sins "against love, peace, human rights, and respect for other cultures and other religions."

    During this prayer, candles will be illuminated before a 14-century crucifix at the altar-- a crucifix which has traditionally been venerated at St. Peter's during holy years. At the conclusion of the prayer, Pope John Paul will embrace the crucifix as a sign of his appeal for God's pardon. Then at the conclusion of the Mass he will add another prayer for "the purification of memory" that comes through confession and conversion.

    Meanwhile, aAn Italian homosexual activist group today called for the Vatican to include homosexuals among the groups which the Catholic Church will acknowledge have suffered by a failure of Christians to live up to their faith.

    While many observers have mistakenly characterized the new Vatican document, Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past, as an apology by the Church to others, Catholic leaders have pointed out that the document and a reconciliation service on March 12 will ask pardon from God for the failures of Christians which led to evil.

    "The Vatican is asking forgiveness from everyone except homosexuals, who are among the most numerous victims of the theocratic violence of yesterday and today," said Franco Grillini, president of Arcigay. "Catholic hierarchy should implore forgiveness from lesbians and homosexuals ... who were jailed, tortured, and killed" in the past. The charges against the Church cannot be historically documented.

    In a statement, Grillini accused the Catholic Church, which says homosexual activity is a immoral, of abetting repression of homosexuals over the centuries.


March 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 48

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