DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN September 3-5, 1999 vol. 10, no. 167
NEWS & VIEWS
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S "MEA CULPA"
Pope Prepares Solemn Act of Pardon on March 8, 2000
VATICAN CITY, SEP 1, 1999 (ZENIT).- In the spring of 1994, John Paul II called all cardinals to a special meeting in the Vatican to inform them of his intention to conduct a serious conscience exam of the historic failings of the Church in order to prepare for the Jubilee of the year 2000. Not all of those present were enthusiastic about the idea.
A number of cardinals were afraid that admitting to possible historical errors by Church organizations or members would only give the "enemies of the faith" more weapons to attack it with. Others expressed the view that some faithful may not understand the true motive behind this attitude and, as a result, their view of the Church as an institution may be weakened.
In spite of these doubts, the Holy Father answered that the Church was not afraid of the truth and that it would be impossible to take on the challenges of contemporary society without facing this kind of examination of conscience.
Pope John Paul renewed his commitment to seek unity among Christian churches and admitted that this would not be possible until all sides agreed to admit to their failures. And that, if Christians did not overcome their differences, they would continue to be a motive of scandal for the rest of the world who do not understand them. Christian witness would also not be credible if abuses of human rights committed during certain historical periods by sons of the Church were not recognized and reviewed.
Sins of Church's Sons
Based on these reflections, in 1994 the Holy Father published the apostolic letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," which outlines the Church's immediate preparation for the Jubilee. In this document, John Paul II exhorts the faithful to "purify themsleves by repenting for errors, infidelities, inconsistancies, and setbacks." He speaks of "sins" committed by "sons of the Church" and he denounces the scandal provoked by those who call themselves disciples of Christ but live far removed from Christian values. He openly admits that certain actions have "disfigured the face of the Church."
In order to carry out this examination of concience, the Pope established a "theological-historical" commission, presided by Dominican Georges Cottier. "Theologian of the Papal Household." The commission decided to analyze three important questions concerning the history of the Church: anti-Judaism, the Inquisition and the application of Vatican Council II.
The first part of their work took place in 1997, when they organized an international Symposium in the Vatican to discuss anti-Judaism. In 1998, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, another congress ws organized in Rome on the theme of the Inquisition. In the year 2000, from Feb. 25-27, the third symposium will be held on the application of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, considered by many as the most important Church event of this century.
The results of these meetings, which have assembled world-renowned experts
in each of the fields in question, should offer Pope John Paul II the
necessary material to draw up the final draft of the penitential act of
"pardon scheduled for March 8, 2000, Ash Wednesday.
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NEWS & VIEWS