SHAKEN, if not humbled by the destruction of old Catholic churches in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol after a powerful 7.2 quake hit Central Visayas last Tuesday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Friday apologized for the sins of the Church against non-Catholics and even the poor.
Tagle made his apology on the last day of the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) at the University of Santo Tomas, a 3-day event that sought to rekindle the Catholic faith.
“In memory of Blessed Pope John Paul II and his collaborators before the year 2000, including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I humbly, humbly, in the name of my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church or even the Christian communities, I beg for pardon,” Tagle said.
“We want to say how sorry we are for the sins, the hurts that we have inflicted on non-Catholics and non-Christians,” Tagle said at the close of the interfaith dialogue.
He also asked forgiveness to the “poor that have been neglected, the hungry, the thirsty, that we did not see or hear.”
“We want to ask forgiveness from the women who have been degraded, dehumanized and the children who did not experience caring,” the prelate added.
He also asked forgiveness of the youth who do not always find “a home that will welcome them; the strangers and foreigners and aliens in the land who were not made to feel they are our own.”
Likewise, he apologized to the orphans, widows and the vulnerable who are loved by God “[but] asked why the Church failed to love them.”
“And we want to ask forgiveness of the earth that we have abused and misused and those who have not been mentioned” but whose forgiveness Tagle sought.
The cardinal also apologized to those “who have also hurt us” as he said “we forgive you, love you and hope we can start to build a world of love, justice, truth and peace not just for ourselves but for the generations to come.”
He appealed to the public to “purify our memories” that is filled with “prejudice, anger, hatred, memories that we have passed on from generation to generation.”
“Let us remember just how much God has loved us and how patient He has been with all of us. Let us remember how all of us have a spot in the heart of God. Those are the memories that we should have and pass on,” Tagle emphasized.
In his public apology, however, Tagle did not explicitly address the sexual abuse of priests and the misuse of Church funds, which have also plagued Catholic leaders.
Online newssite, Rappler, reported more specific confession of sins took place on Thursday, October 17, also in the PCNE including the sins of pastors of the Church, the laity against social justice and against those “who do not share our faith,” and against “our call to be a community of disciples.”
While Tagle left some things unsaid, his apology, in any case, fits well with his opening message at the PCNE—a call for humility.
Blessed Paul was first
Blessed Pope John Paul 2nd also apologized for the sins of the Catholic Church 13 years ago.
On the Day of Pardon in March 2000, the late Pontiff said sorry for sins “committed in the service of truth,” against the people of Israel, against “respect for cultures and religions,” and against “the dignity of women and the unity of the human race because Christians have at times given in to tolerance.”
He also said sorry for the times when “the equality of your sons and daughters has not been acknowledged, and Christians have been guilty of attitudes of rejection and exclusion, consenting to acts of discrimination on the basis of racial and ethnic differences.
Coincidentally, the year 2000 saw the hardest winter in Mongolia resulting in the death of 2.4 million livestock and 45 percent of its people was affected; floods killed 650 in Mozambique; heavy rains also affected Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe; cyclones Eline (mid February) and Gloria (early March) left 184,000 people in need of immediate relief support out of 737,000 people affected in Madagascar; floods in September and October in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam and Thailand killed 900 people and left 4 million homeless with losses of $460 million and hurricane Keith in October killed eight and affected 62,000 people in Belize with direct losses of $520 million.