Volume 93, Issue 86

Tuesday, March 14, 2000


Grad students pass on bus

Arbitrator called to end Cape Breton strike

Students spooked by knife-wielding stranger

SuperBuild project starts soon

Pope makes history with apology for sins

No crime too small for the UPD



Caught on campus

Pope makes history with apology for sins

By Rachel De Lima
Gazette Writer

Religious history was made at the Vatican on Sunday, when Pope John Paul II publicly apologized for sins committed by the church.

Although no specific names were given at the mass held at St. Peter's Basilica, references were made to wrongs inflicted on Jews, women and minorities spanning the last 2,000 years.

"It's always tricky to issue this sort of apology," said Susan Mader Brown, associate professor of religious studies at King's College. "These mistakes were the result of acting upon generally accepted ways of doing things at the time." She added the apology was an opportunity for everyone, not just Catholics, to examine the effect their actions may have on others.

Brown also commended the Pope's choice of March 12 as the date for the apology. "The first Sunday of Lent was appropriate, as Lent is a time for repentance," she said. "Hopefully, the groups towards which the apology was targeted will accept it as sincere and well-meant."

Reverend Elisabeth Geertsma of Huron College said she trusted the integrity of the Pope's statement. "Showing repentance demonstrated to the world that religious institutions can take responsibility for their people." She added as society changes, religious policy was often modified to accommodate changing public attitudes.

Geertsma also said society needed to return to the basics upon which religion was built. "To [apologize] like this is acknowledging that the church isn't perfect because human beings aren't perfect," she said. The decline in religion's involvement in everyday life has resulted in less emphasis on the morals and values it instills in people, she said.

Jerry White, associate professor of sociology at Western, said the statement was important in acknowledging the overall position and relationships of religions with respect to each other. "The church is trying to reach out to some of the other major religions," he said. White emphasized the somewhat vague apology may lead to internal discussion within the church, resolving possible differences of opinion between church leaders.

"The Pope is saying there may have been some major mistakes made," he said. "Visiting the Holy Land may lead to improvements between Jewish and Catholic relations."

He added the Pope was looking forward to the new millennium as a time of unity for all the major religions.

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