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List of apologies made by Pope John Paul II

  (Redirected from Apologies by Pope John Paul II)
Pope John Paul II on 12 August 1993 in Denver (Colorado)

Pope John Paul II made many apologies. During his long reign as Pope, he apologized to Jews, Galileo, women, people convicted by the Inquisition, Muslims killed by the Crusaders and almost everyone who had allegedly suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church over the years.[1] Even before he became the Pope, he was a prominent editor and supporter of initiatives like the Letter of Reconciliation of the Polish Bishops to the German Bishops from 1965. As Pope, he officially made public apologies for over 100 of these wrongdoings, including:[2][3][4][5][6]

  • The legal process on the Italian scientist and philosopher Galileo Galilei, himself a devout Catholic, around 1633 (31 October 1992).[7]
  • Catholics' involvement with the African slave trade (9 August 1993).[4][5][6][8]
  • The Church's role in burnings at the stake and the religious wars that followed the Protestant Reformation (May 1995, in the Czech Republic).[3][4][5][6]
  • The injustices committed against women, the violation of women's rights and for the historical denigration of women (29 May 1995, in a "letter to women").[2][3][4][5][6]
  • The inactivity and silence of many Catholics during the Holocaust (16 March 1998).[3][4][5][9][10]
  • For the execution of Jan Hus in 1415 (18 December 1999 in Prague). When John Paul II visited Prague in 1990s, he requested experts in this matter "to define with greater clarity the position held by Jan Hus among the Church's reformers, and acknowledged that "independently of the theological convictions he defended, Hus cannot be denied integrity in his personal life and commitment to the nation's moral education." It was another step in building a bridge between Catholics and Protestants.[3][4][5][6]
  • For the sins of Catholics throughout the ages for violating "the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and [for showing] contempt for their cultures and religious traditions". (12 March 2000, during a public Mass of Pardons).[3][4][5][6]
  • For the actions of the Crusader attack on Constantinople in 1204. To the Patriarch of Constantinople he said "Some memories are especially painful, and some events of the distant past have left deep wounds in the minds and hearts of people to this day. I am thinking of the disastrous sack of the imperial city of Constantinople, which was for so long the bastion of Christianity in the East. It is tragic that the assailants, who had set out to secure free access for Christians to the Holy Land, turned against their own brothers in the faith. The fact that they were Latin Christians fills Catholics with deep regret. How can we fail to see here the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the human heart?".[3][4][5][6]

On 20 November 2001, from a laptop in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II sent his first e-mail apologizing for the Catholic sex abuse cases, the Church-backed "Stolen Generations" of Aboriginal children in Australia, and to China for the behavior of Catholic missionaries in colonial times.[11]

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.

— Pope John Paul II [12]

In December 1999, at the request of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who would later become Pope Benedict XVI, the International Theological Commission presented its study on the topic Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past. The purpose of this document is "not to examine particular historical cases but rather to clarify the presuppositions that ground repentance for past faults." It examines repentance for past faults in the context of sociology, ecclesiology and theology.[13]


  1. ^ Stourton, Edward. John Paul II: Man of History. London: © 2006 Hodder & Stoughton. p. 1. ISBN 0-340-90816-5.
  2. ^ a b John Paul II (1995-05-29). "Letter of Pope John Paul II To Women".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Caroll, Rory (2000-03-13). "Pope says sorry for sins of church". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h BBC News. "Pope issues apology". BBC. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h BBC News. "Pope apologises for Church sins". BBC News. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Robinson, B A (2000-03-07). "Apologies by Pope John Paul II". Ontario Consultants. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  7. ^ "Pope on Galileo, 1992". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  8. ^ Little, Becky. "When Popes Become Penitents", History, August 31, 2018
  9. ^ "Vatican Gives Formal Apology for Inaction During Holocaust - The Tech". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  10. ^ "We remember: a reflection on the Shoah". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  11. ^ BBC News Europe (23 November 2001). "BBC News Europe - Pope Sends His First E-Mail - An Apology". BBC News. London: BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012. from a laptop in the Vatican's frescoed Clementine Hall the 81-year-old pontiff transmitted the message, his first 'virtual' apology.
  12. ^ "BrainyQuote: Pope John Paul II Quotes". © 2007,2009 Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  13. ^ "Memory and Reconciliation: the Church and the faults of the past 7 March 2000". Retrieved 2019-11-12.

Further readingEdit