I'm So Sorry

JP2 praying to an idol of the Queen of Heaven

It was the second week of March in John Paul II's Jubilee Year 2000. One could read of the Pope's travels or plans in just about every edition of his local newspaper. The aging and quite infirm leader of the Roman Catholic Church continued his travels as he sought to bring all the world's religions under the umbrella of the Roman Church. This, of course, was the not-so-subtle message of Vatican II: "Forget doctrine. Let's just love one another and Mary will convince the Catholic Jesus to save us all."

A few years ago, the big news was JP2's visit to the Greek Orthodox St. Catherine monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. He had hoped to bring Christian (read "Catholic"), Jewish and Orthodox officials together in ecumenical embrace during his visit, but that did not come to pass. The Orthodox abbot had requested that JP2 not pray in the monastery's chapel, explaining that would be offensive to those of his faith. The Pope knelt and prayed before the statue of the Greek Orthodox demigoddess anyway, providing an insight into how much attention would be paid to the doctrines of "separated brethren" in the ecumenical paradise Rome envisages.

The Pope planned a special Mass on March 12th, the "Day of Pardon." It appeared that John Paul 2 did not wish to be left behind in the contemporary rush of nations to apologize for atrocities committed in the past. Word was out that JP2 might at least make reference to Catholic actions or inactions during the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Inquisition and in religious wars. There was speculation that the Pope would even mention such contemporary Catholic faults as sinning against women and the poor and not protecting unborn children from abortion.

No doubt the Pope's "apology" was to be delivered in a sincere and apparently heartfelt manner. He may even actually believe every word he planned to utter. But would such an apology be meaningful? From the pre-apology publicity that poured out Rome, it seemed that this "apology" would be more of the same old, equivocable, non-specific garbage we who actually read Rome's publications had grown accustomed to.

""The reference to errors and sins in a liturgy must be frank and capable of specifying guilt; yet given the number of sins committed in the course of 20 centuries, it must necessarily be rather summary," said Bishop Piero Marini, who is in charge of papal ceremonnies." (Victor L. Simpson, AP, "Pope's planned apology growing more detailed," San Antonio Express-News, March 8, 2000, p. 12A)

""It cannot assume the aspect of a spectacular self-flagellation," said Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president of the Vatican's 2000 Jubilee Committee." (Ibid.)

In other words, the Pope was going to say something to the effect that over the centuries the RCC has done some bad things, but isn't terribly broken up over it. Another indication of the true depth of RCC's willingness to accept responsilibty for her wrongdoing may be found in a statement made by the Pope during a visit to Brazil in 1997:

"What is interesting is that it is always the pope and the Catholic Church who asked forgiveness while others remained silent...Maybe that is as it should be." (Ibid.)

Even if the Pope and the College of Cardinals and all the bishops, priests, deacons and nuns throughout the Roman Catholic world honestly and sincerely offered an apology for all the wrongdoing of the Catholic Church over the centuries, what would it mean?

Such an apology would be tantamount to a public confession of wrongdoing, not so much on the part of each individual -- though it could be true for some -- but by the entity known as the Roman Catholic Church. The RCC certainly has been anthropomorphized over the centuries, by Catholic and non-Catholic alike, but can an organizational chart be guilty of anything? Are we not talking about the people who constitute the RCC? Some might argue that the Pope, as ruler over the ecclesiastical empire known as the Roman Catholic Church speaks for all its membership. That might work for some things, but I question the validity of an organizational confession and public apology for wrongs committed over a period of 17 centuries. At the very best, it would be a symbolic gesture and, at worst, a shallow and devoid of meaning for all but the man delivering it - and even that is open to doubt.

When I was wearing Catholic chains, what is now referred to as the Sacrament of Reconciliation was known as Confession. In order that one's confession be a good one and result in absolution of the eternal consequences of his sin, according to Romish mythology, certain requirements had to be fulfilled:

"What is Confession?

"Confession is a sorrowful declaration of our sins to a Priest, in order to obtain Absolution from him.

"What are the necessary Qualities of Confession? "

"Confession must be, 1. Entire; 2. Sincere; and 3. Clear"
(Joseph DeHarbe, S.J., A Complete Carechism of the Catholic Religion, 6th Ed., Kirwin & Fauss:New York (1924), p. 288 w/ Nihil Obstat and Imprimitur)

The teaching of the RCC when I was young was that in order to obtain absolution, one's confession must be Entire. That means that one could hide no mortal sins, as they were known as in those days. Given Rome's motto, "Semper Idem," one might reasonably assume that what was once a requirement for Confession remains a requirement in these days of Reconciliation.

"What sort of circumstances must we confess?

"We must, 1. Especially confess such circumstances as change the nature, or aggravate the guilt, of our sins; and 2. Mention in general everything by which the Confessor may be enabled to judge rightly of the state of our conscience, and to put us on our guard against relapsing into sin.

"1. Should a person have stolen Church property, or wished his parents dead, coveted his neighbor's wife, injured some one by telling a lie, etc., it would not be sufficient for him to confess merely that he has stolen, wished some persons dead, had an evil desire, told a lie. 2. Therefore, we must also declare whether we have injured our neighbors much or little, knowingly or unknowingly; whether the occasion of sin still continues; whether we have often before confessed the evil habit, and never corrected it." (Joseph DeHarbe, Op. cit., pp. 288-89)

It would seem, judging by the words of Bishop Marini quoted above, that the Pope's public confession/apology will not fulfill the requirement of Entirety required for a good confession. Perhaps it will do better when measured against the other standards.

"When is Confession 'Sincere'?

"When we accuse ourselves just as we siincerely believe ourselves guilty before God, without concealing or disguising anything, or excusing it by vain pretences." (Joseph DeFarbe, Op. cit., p. 289)

Oops! Looks Like John Paul's confession/apology also failed to meet the Sincerity requirement for a good confession. There is still hope, though. With all the time and effort put into it by the pope and all his Vatican helpers, certainly the confession/apology would have been clearly stated.

"When is Confession 'clear'?

"When we so express ourselves that the Confessor can understand everything well, and clearly see the state of our conscience.

" Would our Confession be clear if we accused ourselves in general only?--for example, that we have not loved God, that we have thought or spoken evil?

"By no means; we must distinctly name and specify the different sins. (Joseph DeHarbe, Op. cit., p. 290)

Poor John Paul. All that effort and his public confession/apology failed to meet any of the three requirements for a good confession: entirety, sincerity or clarity. Those are the requirements of the RCC. What does the Lord God have to say about making good wrongs done to others? There were, of course, all manner of specified sacrifices to cover many sins, but some sins carried pre-ordained penalties, such as:

And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death." Leviticus 24:19-21, KJV

Well, now. How often have we read RCC claims to be fulfilled Judaism? to be the new Israel? If these were true, then a lot of Catholic popes, cardinals, bishops priests, nuns and who knows what are in big trouble over the sins of the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the treatment of orphans in Quebec and elsewhere. Of course, some Catholics might argue that we are living in New Testament times, and I would be the first to agree with that. I would remind them, however, that only God's elect down through the centuries have spared the just consequences of their sins by Grace alone, through Faith alone in Christ alone. Those who worship some pale clone of Christ, through his earth goddess mother, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, must still bear the eternal consequences of their sins. This means that all the public apologies in the world will do nothing to remit a single moment of the eternal suffering that many former popes, cardinals, priests, kings, and Catholic laymen are presently enduring; nor will it remove any eternal consequences for those unsaved alive today. The Pope's apology can save no one. All the absolutions granted by all the priests and bishops throughout the long history of the Roman church will save no one from the eternal flames of the fiery lake. Only faith in Christ, a gift from a merciful God, can bring salvation and forgivenness. Seek Him, while there yet is time.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:14-19, KJ>

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