|Monday, March 20, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 114
Nandagiri on gasoline
Ed De La Garza
Forgive us our trespasses ...
On March 12, during a special "liturgy of forgiveness," Pope John Paul II apologized for more "sins" committed by the Catholic church throughout history.
This time, the pontiff apologized for any sins of omission -- or commission -- committed during the Inquisition, various crusades, the Holocaust and sins against ethnic groups and other religions. So basically, the pope is sorry if the Catholic church offended or sinned against any particular group (except those with "alternative" lifestyles).
Though the pope has issued enough apologies to make President Clinton jealous, this most recent statement comes just before his planned trip to the Holy Land. The trip is the third and final part of the pope's quest to retrace biblical history. John Paul is the first pope to visit the Holy Land in 36 years.
While we can all applaud the pope -- it's kind of hard to take issue with a 79-year-old religious leader -- for attempting to mend fences with Israel by apologizing for past sins, the apology doesn't do much more than a similar one issued almost two years ago. It's simply a reaffirmation of atonement.
It doesn't matter, either, that he denies that trip has any ulterior purpose aside from, effectively, religious sightseeing. Sure, you're the most highly revered religious leader on the planet, and you're not going to take a vocal side in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians when you go to tour Jerusalem.
Even if the pope makes a speech in that much fought-over city, it will probably be one of the middle-of-the road, "let's not bicker and argue" variety. In other words, another potential apology.
This time, among a large Muslim population, he may recant the entirety of the Crusades. Then he'll have covered the millennium with a blanket apology.
May we reiterate, we think that a public concession of the Catholic Church's mistakes is, by itself, a powerful message to the world. It's the kind of message that reinforces tolerance and compassion. But to extend one apology into another and another decreases the impact of the statement.
We understand, too, that part of the pope's job is making speeches and
proclamations day in and day out, but maybe it's time to find a better
way to express the Christian tenets of peace and love than a redundant,