Pope's Apology - U.S. Response

March 13, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On March 13, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pope John Paul II asked for God's forgiveness for sins committed or condoned by Catholics over the last 2,000 years in a homily on Sunday, March 12th from St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The Pope divided the sins into seven broad categories: sins "in the service of truth", sins against Christian unity, sins against Jews, sins against other religions and cultures, sins against women and the unity of the human race, sins against individual rights, and sins in general. In his homily, the Pope defended the church as "a wonderful wealth of holiness, of missionary ardor, of total dedication to Christ and to our neighbor," but acknowledged that "some of our brothers have been unfaithful to the Gospel." The Pope said that the sins were glaring "in the second millennium" and he asked forgiveness for them: "We ask forgiveness for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some Christians have committed in the service of truth and for the attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed toward followers of other religions." After a moment of silent prayer, the Pope specifically addressed sins against Jews: "We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood." Yishar Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor who is chief rabbi of Ashkenazi Jews in Israel, stated: "It is deeply disappointing that the subject of the Holocaust was not dealt with in the papal homily, all the more so since John Paul witnessed it directly." Steven Jacobs of the Kol Tikvah Temple in Woodland Hills, California stated: "This statement is powerful, historical; it talks about a new world order, about understanding...Some may feel that the pope didn't go far enough, but there are internal Vatican politics that we should have nothing to say about."