It's Time for a Good National Confession

National Catholic Reporter, June 15, 2001 | Go to article overview

It's Time for a Good National Confession


It is deeply established in Catholic moral theology that grave sin calls for the sacrament of reconciliation. The fundamental components are well known: contrition, confession, reparation for sins. The sin must be named. We must be sorry for the sin. We must make disclosure of what we have done. Finally, we must redress, to the extent possible, the wrong we have committed.

The contemporary world has developed a similar technique for seeking and extending forgiveness, the truth commission. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for instance, offers, pardon to those who confess in full. Truth commissions in El Salvador and Guatemala, likewise, are helping victims to heal, uncovering evidence to document the awful events of past decades so that the memory of those years is not lost to new generations. Truth commissions are at work in Nigeria, Panama, Sierra Leone and East Timor. Peru and Indonesia will soon follow, and there is pressure for commissions in Mexico, Bosnia, Serbia, Ghana and Burundi. Canada is concerned about the way it has treated native peoples and may use a committee to air the subject.

In his column on page 19, Jesuit Fr. Robert Drinan, who as a member of Congress at the time persistently opposed the Vietnam War, writes, "Vietnam can never be forgotten. It will rise up in our souls at unexpected times and in unpredictable ways." That warning would stand for other U.S. ventures in other lands. In many cases where truth commissions have occurred, the missing partner has been the United States. We have trained soldiers, conspired to overthrow elected rulers, aided and abetted torture and assassination, have been complicit in exploitation of indigenous populations. Yet we remain unaccountable. We get to go home. We get to forget.

But all of these things will indeed rise up, not only in our souls in unexpected times and ways, but also in the souls of those who have been the victims of our actions.

It is time we take a lesson from those in the developing world who have faced incredibly ugly moments of their past as a way to a healthier future. It is time for a U.S. truth commission, to open the countless intelligence community and State Department files detailing U.S. activities during the past half century.

The United States is remarkably adverse to any such suggestions. While we in this country fully support international tribunals for others, we have resisted all attempts to be held accountable by any international bodies. The United States is not the only developed power in need of some serious truth telling. Europe's colonial powers and Japan could benefit from this remarkable new element of democratic governance.

Some items to consider

The following are some items, hardly an exhaustive list, the United States might consider:

In Nicaragua in 1979, the CIA moved to save Somoza's National Guard, which had slaughtered some 40,000 Nicaraguans. The United States flew Somoza's troops in planes disguised with Red Cross markings to Honduras where they were supplied with sophisticated arms and supplies and reconstituted as a terrorist force under the direction of Argentine neoNazis. In subsequent years there followed the Sandinista revolution, the overthrow of control by the Somoza family, all resisted by the United States in a variety of ways, and the U.S. funding of the contra forces aimed at thwarting the revolution. The International Court of Justice ultimately found the United States guilty of mining Nicaragua's harbors. In violation of our treaty obligations, we refused to acknowledge the verdict.

Unfortunately, the events in Nicaragua were not isolated. A 1964 CIA secret report, published by The New York Times in June of last year, describes the 1953 overthrow in Iran of the democratically elected and modernizing Premier Mossadeq in "an operation planned and executed by the CIA and the British SIS." The CIA's Kermit Roosevelt went to Iran to coordinate the army revolt. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

It's Time for a Good National Confession
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.