Pope John Paul II Makes Plea For Forgiveness of Past Wrongs Committed by Catholic ChurchAired March 12, 2000 - 6:03 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with an historic plea from Pope John Paul II, a plea for forgiveness. During a Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Basilica, the pope acknowledged an array of past wrongs committed by the Catholic Church against Jews, women and minorities. He apologized and asked for God's forgiveness, an unprecedented act.
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Kate Snow from Washington.
POPE JOHN PAUL II (through translator): We are asking forgiveness.
SNOW: Words that resonated beyond Saint Peters in Rome to Catholic churches in Washington, D.C.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's wonderful. I think he did a very good idea to ask forgiveness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully it will help us with our relationships with Jews and others.
SNOW: Across the country, Catholic officials took their lead from the pope. In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law apologized for the role of Catholics in slavery, sexual abuse by priests, racism, anti- Semitism, and the treatment of women.
(on camera): But the pope's message was less specific. The mass mentioned the suffering of the people of Israel but made no specific reference to the Holocaust. Many Jewish leaders in the U.S. found that disturbing.
ABRAHAM FOXMAN, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: This was a laundry list of crimes -- of sins committed by the church through 2,000 years and yet the greatest sin of the last century tolerated by Christianity and participated with so many Christians was the Holocaust and not to mention the Holocaust specifically, this historic moment, is a missed opportunity and it saddens us.
FLORA SINGER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: He should have mentioned the Nazis. SNOW (voice-over): Flora Singer spent two and a half years in hiding during the Holocaust, part of the time at Catholic convents. Her friend, Nessie Goden (ph), went to a concentration camp. Both women say, at least the pope is talking about the past.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is about time. It could have come earlier, but whatever happens, better later than never.
SNOW: Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.
HALL: For more on the pope's apology, we are joined by the Reverend Thomas Reece in New York. Reece is a Jesuit priest and the editor of "America Magazine," a weekly periodical published by the Jesuits. He's also the author of "Inside The Vatican." Thanks for being with us.
REV. THOMAS REECE, AUTHOR, "INSIDE THE VATICAN": Certainly.
HALL: Father Reece, today's "New York Times" characterizes the pope's unprecedented apology as "theologically daring." How do you characterize it?
REECE: Well, I think I would characterize it as a courageous stance on the part of the pope, to stand up before the entire world and say that, we Catholics have been sinners, and I think that's important for him to do that.
HALL: Many Catholics are actually trying to reconcile that very point when, of course, the church says that it is holy and yet it is now admitting to sin. How do you think that they should frame that issue for themselves?
REECE: Well, I think we should recognize that we are the church. The people in the church include the bishops, the pope, the clergy, all of us are sinners and in need of confessing our sins, seeking reconciliation and God's mercy. I think that is proper.
HALL: While some people do welcome -- I think most people welcome the apology, but they -- there are those who say that it just doesn't go far enough and other groups are saying that they want an apology, too, like homosexuals. Do you think that this broad sweeping apology should have been enough?
REECE: Well, the pope took 20 minutes to go through the apology that he did. I mean, we are talking about 2,000 years of sin. It could take us 2,000 years to list all the sins that Christians have committed in the past. I regret personally that he didn't mention the Holocaust, because that is such an important issue in the last century, but I think, you know, the pope has mentioned the Holocaust in the past and he will continue to touch on it.
HALL: So many of these sins, as the pope puts it, happened hundreds of years ago and there are those Catholics who really don't believe that they need to apologize or ask forgiveness for the sins of their fathers.
REECE: Yes, I -- the first thing I would say to them is, welcome to the club, you now know how Jews feel or felt for being blamed for the death of Jesus. No, they are not guilty of these sins. A child does not inherit the guilt of the sin of her parent, but we know that sins of the past have consequences on us today. Prejudices and hatreds are passed down generation to generation. We have to say, this must stop, and that is what's important that the pope has done.
HALL: This is an unprecedented apology. Put this in context for us as history goes down?
REECE: Well, I think that this is unprecedented, although Pope Paul VI started this with the Orthodox church. I think it's the beginning. It will start -- I think it will be seen as a turning point, so that people in the future will look back on this with a happy memory as something that began reconciliation between Catholics and all sorts of groups.
HALL: Reverend Father -- Reverend Father -- I'm going to give you so much respect here -- Thomas Reece, thanks for joining us.
REECE: Thank you.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|CLICK HERE FOR TODAY'S TOPICS AND GUESTS|
CLICK HERE FOR CNN PROGRAM SCHEDULES
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.