"REMORSE THAT ENDS SIN"
Religious apologies for past sins
The following essay is taken from an article in the Christian
Science Monitor, on 2000-MAR-14, called "Remorse that ends sin."
The author is unknown.
In recent years, the world has seen many public acts of contrition,
from movie stars to whole nations to presidents.
Some of them are sincere and come out of a genuine change of heart and
a commitment to right behavior.
Some merely deflate a public relations problem, and diminish the act
But perhaps at the end of the 20th century, when totalitarian regimes
such as the Soviet Union have fallen and new ideas flood the world with
the click of a computer mouse, people everywhere are seeking new forms of
spirituality - both in their own lives and collectively - by dealing with
Churches would be expected to lead the way in offering the kind of
apologies and remorse that admit past mistakes as a way to ensure they
won't be repeated.
The Southern Baptists, for instance, apologized for their past support
of slavery and segregation. Government leaders, too, try to encourage the
prevention of new errors by admitting past ones. British Prime Minister
Tony Blair apologized for the Irish potato famine; President Clinton for
the US government's use of blacks in the Tuskegee syphilis study.
Such apologies often serve more to repair relations than to evoke
genuine remorse among the descendants of those who committed the acts.
It's difficult to feel, at the collective level, responsible for sins
committed by people long gone.
True remorse, however, is possible if people understand the nature of
past sins and how they occurred because of a lack of love and respect
To restore that love and respect often requires actions more than
words. Each individual or group must decide if an act of repentance must
also come with an act of making others whole again. Forgiveness is
possible when a sin and its effects are truly eliminated.
Confessions are just a first step down a path toward a moral
understanding that brings a sense of wholeness without sin.
Renewal often requires institutions and people to see the errors of
And how that is done can make all the difference.
that ends sin," Christian
Science Monitor, 2000-MAR-14 at: http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/03/14/text/p8s1.html
Copyright © 2000 The Christian Science Publishing
Company. All rights reserved.
Originally published: 2000-MAR-14
Latest update of this file: 2004-APR-13