success stories

Posted July 24, 2003

Book: When A Pope Asks Forgiveness: The Mea Culpa’s of John Paul II
Author: Luigi Accattoli
Pauline Books and Media, Boston, pp. 257

Excerpt from Jacket:

this exceptional book was originally published in Italy in 1997. At that time John Travis, Rome Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service, noted that "after nineteen years in the public eye, new discoveries about Pope John Paul II’s pontificate might seem highly unlikely. But an Italian journalist put his finger on a hidden theme of this papacy, a theme destined to take on crucial importance as the Church prepares for the year 2000.

"When the Pope outlined his plans for the jubilee year 2000 in 1994, he called on the Church to make a critical self-evaluation of its actions over the past centuries. The Pope’s decision intrigued Luigi Accattoli, who wondered why a Polish-born Pontiff known for his staunch defense of the Church and its institutions would initiate a critical review of Church behavior. He began researching speeches and made his surprising discovery, that Pope John Paul II had publically admitted Church culpability 94 times, on topics ranging from the inquisition to the treatment of women.

Excerpt from Book:

There are three pillars that support the central arch of the examination of conscience at the end of the millennium, with which the Catholic Church is occupied today:

— the ‘confession of sin" that came out of the assembly of the World Council of Churches, held at Amsterdam in 1948.

— Paul VI’s petition for forgiveness from the separated brethren at the opening of the second session of the Second Vatican Council in September, 1963.

— the invitation of John Paul II tore-examine the history of the Church, contained in the memorandum sent to the cardinals in the spring of 1994.

These three occasions were marked by texts that are without a doubt among the most important Christian pronouncements of the last half century. One of them, which we shall discuss here, was by Pope Paul VI, and it is a summary of all his work for the re-examination of history. The document puts the Catholic Church at a level o the most mature ecumenical experience, makes a decisive contribution to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and serves as the basis for the energetic launching of the initiative by Pope John Paul II more than thirty years later. This is the way Pope Paul VI spoke at St. Peter’s on September 29, 1963, three months after his election:

We speak now to the representatives of the Christian denominations separated from the Catholic Church, who have nevertheless been invited to take part as observers in this solemn assembly . . . If we are in any way to blame for that separation, we humbly beg God’s forgiveness and ask pardon too of our brethren who feel themselves to have been injured by us. For our part, we willingly forgive the injuries which the Catholic Church has suffered, and forget the grief endured during the long series of dissensions and separations.

Table of Contents:

1. The Crusades
2. Dictatorships
3. Division among the Churches
4. Women
5. The Jews
6. Galileo
7. War and Peace
8. Religious Wars
9. Hus, Calvin, and Zwingli
10. The Indians
11. Injustices
12. The Inquisition
13. Integralism
14. Islam
15. Luther
16. The Mafia
17. Racism
18. Rwanda
19. Eastern Schism
20. History of the Papacy
21. The Blacks