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About the Roman Catholic Church


A Roman Catholic Church apology in the
year 2000 for the past sins of its members

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bullet "The document acknowledges sins only by those acting in the name of the church. It does not acknowledge any sins by the church itself or those who have served as its popes..." CNN, 2000-MAR-7 1

bullet "Following the Pope's gesture, the Church's holiness shines even more. ... It was a simple gesture, but at the same time solemn. ... John Paul II wanted to give a complete, global vision, making reference to circumstances of the past, but without focusing on details out of respect for history. ... The Church is not the one who has sinned, the sinners are Christians and they have done so against the Church, the Bride of Christ." Auxiliary Archbishop Rino Fisichella of Rome, 2000-MAR-13 2

bullet "It is quite a remarkable and admirable thing that a church that considers itself holy, that believes its popes are guided by the hand of God, would acknowledge and ask forgiveness for mistakes of the past. But what about the mistakes of the present? Let's hope acknowledgment of today's exclusion and rejection of women won't have to wait for whoever is pope during the next Jubilee." Joan Ryan, San Francisco Chronicle, 2000-MAR-14. 3 

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During 2000-MAR, the Vatican issued an apology for past sins committed by church members. It is titled "Memory and reconciliation: The church and faults of the past." It was approved by Pope John Paul II, and was written by Cardinal Ratzinger, who followed John Paul II as pope.

Many leaders of the Vatican Curia opposed his action, being concerned that a confession of past errors might cause many Roman Catholics to wonder whether the church is currently engaged in sinful and/or invalid behavior that will require some future pope to apologize for present-day errorss. However, John Paul believed that repentance would transform the church and enable it to lead the world into a "new springtime of Christianity." He was able to overrule the Vatican Curia. 

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Overview, other apologies, the document; verbal apology
bullet The apology: scope, language, implications, reactions
bullet Negative review of the above two essays

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare the above report in the year 2000, and update it since. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Pope to apologize for sins committed by Roman Catholics,", 2000-MAR-7, at:
  2. "Following pardon, holiness of church shines even more," Zenit, 2000-MAR-13, at:
  3. Joan Ryan, "A partial confession from the pope," San Francisco Chronicle, 2000-MAR-14, at:

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Copyright 2000 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-8
Latest update: 2013-JUL-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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