Pope says sorry for sins of church
"Saving one of his most audacious initiatives for the twilight of his papacy, John Paul II yesterday attempted to purify the soul of the Roman Catholic church by making a sweeping apology for 2,000 years of violence, persecution and blunders.
From the altar of St Peter's Basilica in Rome he led Catholicism into unchartered territory by seeking forgiveness for sins committed against Jews, heretics, women, Gypsies and native peoples
Centuries of hate and rivalry could not recur in the third millennium. "We forgive and we ask forgiveness. We are asking pardon for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth, and for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed towards followers of other religions
The Pope, on June 24, 2004 apologized for the annihilation of Constantinople (currently called Istanbul , Turkey ) by Christian Crusaders during 4 days of madness, mayhem and murder in April of the year 1204 A.D. Yes, 1204 A.D.
Three hundred million Eastern Orthodox Christians were ecstatic about the long overdue apology. The world rejoiced. The multitudes went wild, taking to the streets in celebrations never before seen. Finally, world peace is at hand. The apology that we were all waiting for now is a reality.
As we all know, the sacking of Constantinople (known as the Fourth Crusade) was one of the most significant historical events between the fall of the Roman Empire and the discovery of America in the New World . It changed the course of world civilization. It changed the history of European international trade for the next ten centuries. (What! You didn’t know that?)
At least it cannot be said that the Catholic Church does not own up to its mistakes. It’s never too late to apologize. It’s never too late to say you’re sorry. Who cares if its 900 years overdue.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the congregation of the doctrine of the faith, confessed to the sins of the congregation's predecessor, the Inquisition. "Even men of the church, in the name of faith and morals, have sometimes used methods not in keeping with the Gospel," he said.
Applause from the congregation greeted the Pope's arrival in the basilica. He kneeled before the Pieta, Michelangelo's statue of the dead Christ in the arms of his mother, before being wheeled to the altar. He leaned on his silver staff and it took several attempts for him to get out of his chair to kiss a crucifix. The Vatican no longer denies the Pope has Parkinson's disease. An operation to remove a tumour, several falls and an assassination attempt have left him hunched and stiff.
Seeking forgiveness has been a leitmotif of his papacy since his election in 1978. He has apologised for the crusades, the massacre of French Protestants, the trial of Galileo and anti-semitism.
Yesterday's apology was by far the most sweeping and an unprecedented act for the leader of a major religion. One of the highlights of this year's jubilee, or holy year, it was the result of four years' research by a panel of 28 theologians and scholars