Sunday, March 12, 2000

Pope's apology 'sufficient' in Cincinnati


Pontiff to make 'mea culpa' today

Knight Ridder News Service and The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Pope John Paul II plans to fulfill a long-standing promise of his pontificate today when he offers a sweeping apology for wrongs committed by Roman Catholics during the past millennium.

        In America, Roman Catholic leaders followed the pope's lead. Similar apologies are planned this weekend in Boston and Santa Fe; officials in Los Angeles and Denver already have done so.

        In Cincinnati, “the pope's apology is sufficient enough,” said archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco. “We wouldn't want to take away from the pope's apology.”

        Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk will not be making any statement or apology, but Mr. Andriacco applauded the pope's plans.

        “It shows the strength that the pope feels we can do this and not have it hurt the church,” he said. “This is something you can do when you're strong. The weakness of human beings doesn't detract from the strength of the church.”

        Covington Bishop Robert W. Muench was not available for comment Friday, and diocese spokesman Tim Fitzgerald did not know whether the bishop would be making an apology.

        Church officials in Rome last week issued a document that said the apology should be understood as “an act of courage and humility in recognizing the wrongs done by those who have borne or bear the name of Christian.”

        Details and the format of the mea culpa were not released in advance, but its anticipated scope and inclusion in a liturgy would make it a historic moment for the Catholic Church.

        “This is virtually without precedent,” said Eugene Fisher, staff of the ecumenical office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

        But the Vatican took pains to warn that the apology would likely be couched in liturgical, not political, language, and would not be a list of misdeeds.

        “It cannot assume the aspect of a spectacular self-flagellation,” said Cardinal Roger Etchegary, president of the Vatican's 2000 Jubilee Committee.

        Only two popes in the long history of the church have ever issued formal apologies, and those were narrowly focused. In 1522, Pope Adrian VI acknowledged the greed and excess of the papal court under his predecessor, Leo X, whose extravagances prompted the rebellion and reforms of Martin Luther.

        And in 1963, Pope Paul VI expressed regret for the shared role of Catholic leaders in perpetuating the divisions within Christianity.

        AP coverage of Pope's apology



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