Asking Pardon Worldwide

National Catholic Reporter, March 24, 2000 | Go to article overview

Asking Pardon Worldwide


John Paul II's March 12 "day of pardon," during which the pope made unprecedented statements of regret for past wrongs by church members, has inspired similar apologies from Catholic leaders around the world.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles apologized March 6 to minorities, women and homosexuals for failures by the church to be welcoming and to adequately defend their human and civil rights.

Mahony's apology was seen as especially dramatic because he directly mentioned the Immaculate Heart Sisters, apologizing to women religious "who may have felt slighted, not fully appreciated or discriminated against in any way."

In the immediate post-Vatican II period, the dissolution of the Immaculate Heart community in Los Angeles, in part because of disputes with then-Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, created one of the bitterest controversies in the American church. Mahony also apologized "for intemperate remarks orally or in writing" by him that failed to honor the efforts of various people or groups within the archdiocese.

In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law apologized March 11 for 12 "sins of the past," including anti-Judaism and racism, divisions among Christians, and the church's failure to adequately defend women, immigrants and the physically and psychologically disabled. Law also apologized for the sexual misconduct of priests and religious.

"Not to have included that in any general acknowledgement of faults would have been such a glaring omission in terms of recent history," Law said in a news conference. "I know that victims of abuse carry this memory well beyond the incident or incidents in their life, and their families do as well, and the pain is really incalculable. …

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