A group of Neopagans from around the world sent a message to Pope John Paul
II on 2000-JAN-1, requesting that he include Pagans in his proposed apology.
Pope acknowledges sins of the Church:
In October 1998, in preparation for the Millennium, Pope John Paul II, the spiritual leader of about one billion Christian Roman
Catholics, indicated that he and the Vatican are reviewing past Church sins and preparing a global
On 1998-NOV-06, JTA mentioned in an article that Pope John Paul II has
indicated that the Vatican may ask forgiveness for the Inquisition as part of a policy of
self-searching as the Christian millennium approaches.
Since ca 395 AD, with the Codex Theodosius, Pagans have been persecuted
by the Roman Catholic Church as it became the dominant religion.
Forced conversions to Christianity, torture and death of resisters, destruction of Pagan property, sacred sites, symbols, wealth,
etc. - as well as Christianizations (Christian claiming of Pagan
symbols, celebrations) -- are some of the persecutions that Pagans have
suffered at the hands of the Church.
The Inquisition in particular targeted Witches and those accused of Witchcraft with such vehemence that the term "Witch Hunt" has
become synonymous with both religious and political persecution.
Anti-Pagan and anti-Witchcraft propaganda produced by the Inquisition
continues to negatively influence how Pagans and Witches are perceived
Although Witches, Wiccans, and others who are part of contemporary
Paganism do not worship the devil and do not engage in malevolent spiritual
activities, false stereotypes about this, which are rooted in
Inquisition anti-Witch propaganda persist.
Currently, modern Paganism is one of the fastest-growing religious
in the United States, Australia and Great Britain.
In a spirit of great humility and contrition, Pope John Paul II has been
reaching out to former religious enemies -- Jews, Muslims, Protestants,
-- to establish agreements and accommodation; but he has so far failed
include Pagans in any way.
Pope John Paul II, in his recent trip to India and meeting with
religious leaders, has also been talking about freedom of religion as a
right and quoting Mahatma Gandhi on non-exclusivity of religion.
Pagan leaders wish to stabilize relations with all religions and work
for religious freedom and cooperation for all.
With the Vatican's promised millennium apology, Pagan leaders thought
this would be an opportune time to address Pope John Paul II, and the Roman
Catholic Curia, about Pagan concerns and Catholic anti-Pagan
This letter contains signatures of 238 Pagan leaders, 88 Pagan
organizations, 14 Christian Clergy, 41 academic scholars, and 1,256 other members of
the worldwide Pagan community, as well as other non-Pagan sympathizers.
It has been translated into Polish, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Estonian, Russian, Norwegian and Japanese.
Pagans in Action: Council for Truth
1373 Dunbarton Road
Montgomery, AL 36117
Samhain (October 31), 1999
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II
The signatories to this letter have become aware that your advisors in
the Vatican are working on a formal Apology to the Protestant Christians,
and Muslims for the persecution these groups suffered at the hands of
the Catholic Church during the centuries of the Inquisition. It is our understanding that you will formally present this Apology at the opening
the Holy Year 2000 Grand Jubilee, following a penitential procession
Basilica of Santa Sabina to Rome's Circus Maximus, where you will call
forgiveness for the historic failings of the Church. This is a brave and
laudable effort, heralding the beginning of a great healing between the
Catholic Church and the groups that have, historically, been persecuted
We note however, that early news releases concerning this event have not
indicated that those accused of being Witches, and those indigenous
"Pagan") peoples who were forcibly converted by the Church
will be included in your apology. This letter is a formal request for that omission to be
rectified. As leaders of the contemporary Pagan/Wiccan community, we
sincerely hope that Your Holiness will lead the way to mutual respect
religions and spiritual paths by including all those who suffered from
tragedy of the Inquisition.
Modern Pagans, including many identified as Witches and Druids, comprise
global spiritual movement that draws its inspiration and traditions from
indigenous pre-Christian religions. In the name of our spiritual
ancestors who suffered persecution during the Inquisition, we respectfully request
inclusion of Pagans and Witches in your Apology Address.
Ellen Evert Hopman, MA, USA
Rev. Selena Fox, Madison, WI, USA
Rev. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Petaluma, CA, USA
Rev. Norna Kat Steingraber, Montgomery, AL, USA
Mary Bowerman, Dallas/Ft., Worth, TX, USA
Rev. Bill Kilborn, Melbourne, FL, USA
Elizabeth Barrette, Charleston, IL, USA
Chel Bardell, New South Wales, Australia
Pamela Fletcher; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Andy Norfolk, Cornwall, UK
We have been unable to locate any direct response by the Pope to this
request. However, he did issue a statement of apology
in 2000-MAR. According
to Reuters, it "outlined a framework for seeking forgiveness for
past errors without necessarily admitting responsibility for them."
1 It contained no specific references to past events. Since
Catholic theology teaches that the church itself is spotless and free of error
and sin, the church itself was absolved of any blame. He assigned responsibility for
past evils on individual members of the Church. More