News Commentary: Pope’s Apologia

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That’s an Apology?
NY Times:  Pope Offers Apology, Not Penalty, for Sex Abuse Scandal

In his Pastoral Letter Of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI To the Catholics of Ireland, the Pope does not actually apologize to the victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by employees of the Catholic Church.  Instead, he invites Irish Catholics to seek solace from the very institution that has betrayed them, exhorting them to pray and remember the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Although Pope Benedict XVI writes about the pain of the victims, he takes no responsibility for any of it, using terms like “the church in your country.”  In fact, the letter is replete with references to others and has few “I” statements.  It seems designed to prevent a massive defection from the church in Ireland rather than to atone for the grievous acts committed by priests and their superiors on children in their care.

What constitutes a meaningful apology?  Start with owning up to the specific wrong committed, acknowledge how the behavior has negatively affected others, then offer restitution.  This pastoral letter reads more like an apologia.  No wonder the Catholics in Ireland were not happy with it.