Apology: Enough Or Not Enough?

Catholic and other news outlets report on the SSPX bishop, Richard Williamson, apologizing after his expulsion from Argentina. It’s hard to consider the likely sincerity with the sound bytes given in the media. The full text is here.

The man has one good line:

To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said before God I apologise.

Given the limp apologies we see by public figures, this is a step beyond most athletes, celebrities, and such. However, many commentators are unsure. Rome didn’t seem too impressed. I did detect regret, but not for the actual statements offered, but the resulting furor:

Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.

A thief may also regret stealing after being caught in the crime, wishing she or he had not planned a particular heist.

I find it curious the bishop did not address Jewish people at all, directly or even by a mention of them. While Stalin and Mao may have killed more human beings, Hitler’s attempt was to wipe out an entire gens. Mass murder plus genocide. The former were vainly attempting to silence and murder dissenters.

You have to wonder how the pope feels about this whole affair. Any regret, do you think, on his part, for jumping in with lifting excommunications? If one small step (something we’ve shared with the Orthodox for over forty years) causes such a firestorm, why wouldn’t he turn his efforts to ecumenism that will actually build unity?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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11 Responses to Apology: Enough Or Not Enough?

  1. aletorro says:

    I don’t think anyone can deny the Holocaust, it did happen that’s for sure. I think the only part that he’s trying to “deny” is the amount of people that perished in the concentration camps. According to some there were not even that many jews in all europe to begin with (6 million or so).

    The Holocaust was a terrible tragedy, one that shouldn’t happen again to anyone anywhere. Somehow the jewish people are inflicting on the palestinians even worse atrocities than those Hitler inflicted upon them.

    Not only that, but they also mock our faith and call Virgin Mary a slut and Jesus a fat man who couldn’t have walked on water. Don’t believe me, see it for yourselves by going to this link: http://aletorro.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/israeli-show-mocks-jesus-and-mary/

    Where’s the apology for that?

    Or read here to understand more of what went on Israel and Gaza, in this post there are more links to other sources of information that cover even better this topic:

    http://aletorro.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/the-cost-of-the-israel-gaza-war/

    Apologies and insults go both ways, someone who’s subjected to pain shouldn’t inflict it back. After all didn’t Jesus teach us to show the other cheek?

  2. Todd says:

    aletorro, it would be the mark of an ignorant person to receive all information about the Holocaust in some sort of equal manner. The simple truth is that some sources are more reliable than others.

    For Christians, apologies and insults only go one way, outgoing and incoming respectively. We’re big enough to take the random pot shots, given that they come from pretty much everywhere, including the SSPX itself, and not just from Jews.

    Strive for accuracy in recounting and interpreting what individuals say and do, what leaders say on behalf of others, and on how people as a whole present themselves and their culture on the world stage.

    You seem to be suggesting some degree of relativity here. There are circumstances for a thief that would mitigate a crime: a hungry family for example. But theft that causes harm is still a grave matter, independent of the race, creed, culture, or circle of friends of the victim.

    And on the point that the state of Israel lacks justice in dealing with Palestinians, I would agree. But a closer corollary would be the European settlers of the Americas and their treatment of native nations in the New World.

  3. Michael says:

    If you do something wrong, you must atone for it. What others do or don’t do has nothing to do with it. “Yes, but” has no place here.

  4. Fran says:

    All I can think is “rend your heart and not your garments.” If Williamson’s heart is rend that is one thing, but I would agree with your assessment that he seems more upset over the furor rather than his words.

    Having spent time in Dachau and Yad Vashem, having cried with wrinkled and gnarled survivors who are alive today, I feel a sad emptiness and distaste for remarks such as aletrorro’s. “According to some there were not even that many jews in all europe to begin with (6 million or so).” Not that many? What is that supposed to mean? Is each life not precious anyway?

    God have mercy on us all.

  5. aletorro says:

    Todd, yes the Europeans did the same thing in America, as other civilizations did throughout the world. Thing is on the 20th and 21th century we should know better, that it was done 500 years ago doesn’t mean it should be done today.

    Fran I’m saying yes the Holocaust was a horrible thing, one life or six million is one too many, but I’m trying to explain what exactly some people mean, they don’t mean that the Holocaust didn’t happen at all, they just mean it wasn’t as big as some claim. I don’t agree or disagree with these statements because I have no facts to back it up, but it’s not like Holocaust deniers are given a change to give them.

    Fran, I also mentioned that right now Israelis are doing the same thing as Nazis did to them. If every life is precious, how can you let 2,000 lives be lost in 20 days? Most of those lives being children’s lives? Aren’t their lives as precious?

  6. Todd says:

    aletorro, thanks for posting.

    The implication “we should know better” implies that morality is a question of intellect and civilization. The truth is that evil can easily compartmentalize in the human brain and people can come up with all kinds of excuses. It’s not so much that an alcoholic is dumb or uninformed, but living in a deep, deep deception. Given the bitter history of the British in their isles and their empire, clearly civilization means very very little.

    My understanding is that the Nazis kept records of their kidnappings: people, cash flow, and the like. Europe had things like censuses. I’ve heard six million Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis numerous sources, times, etc., and I have no reason to disbelieve it.

    Thing is, people who say it couldn’t have been that many people have nothing to back it up. Nothing. No serious historian or sociologist thinks it was anything less than 6 million. People can doubt the number, just like they doubt any number of things they don’t like, but they reveal their ignorance and racism in doing so. Genocide at the hands of one of the most “civilized” nations on the planet. It sure must hurt to realize the Germans were actually less civilized than cannibal societies.

    However atrocious the Israeli conduct is to Palestinian civilians, no, it’s not like the Nazis. It’s very bad, but it’s evil with a different flavor. Hitler confessed his admiration for the American system of Indian reservations, but current Israeli policy is more like the latter.

    I’ve always thought that the Palestinians were in an ideal situation for non-violent non-cooperation. They were embedded in the state of Israel. They contribute to the economy. If the Palestinians had a Gandhi or a MLK, they could bring the Israelis to their knees within months without a single rocket attack. It would have confounded the ruling class.

  7. Fran says:

    What is going on in Israel and Gaza and to some extent in the West Bank, is a disgrace. I have been to Israel and the West Bank and my heart was not just broken at Yad Vashem.

    As is so often the case, I bow to what Todd says, I really admire and respect you.

  8. I say most Christians need to study up on what Maimonides had to say about teshuvah.

  9. Deacon Eric says:

    For those who complain that “The Jews” have not apologized for the state of the Palestinians, I ask, just who is supposed to issue this apology on behalf of all Jews? Is there a Jewish pope?

    I know five rabbis personally. All five of them deplore the current situation in Israel and call for justice for the Palestinian people. That’s lived experience, apart from those who demand some disembodied formal statement of apology.

    With a group of Jews, Christians and Muslims I visited the Tomb of Abraham in Hebron. As you probably know, this sanctuary was split into a mosque and a synagogue after the massacre of Muslim worshippers there by the fundamentalist Baruch Goldstein in the 1980s. When we arrived, IDF soldiers split us into two groups: Jews who could only enter the synagogue side and Christians and Muslims who could only enter the mosque side.

    When we entered the mosque, our Muslim religious leader led us in prayer for the Jews who were killed there in a massacre by a Muslim fundamentalist in the 1930s. At the same time, our Jewish friends on the other side offered prayers for the Muslims killed by Goldstein.

    Countless acts such as these are far more powerful than demands for some official apology that could then be dissected and parsed by various pundits on CNN.

  10. Fran says:

    First – as always, Meredith Gould brings wisdom where she goes and has done so here. Thank you for the reminder to go and learn something dear Meredith.

    Second Deacon Eric reminds us of the many faces of all faiths.

    What an interesting discussion to be a part of because of what it asks of all of us. And people wonder why I am involved in blogging.

  11. Deacon Eric says:

    Thaks, Fran. I think there is some wisdom in the policies of the IDF. While Christians would generally feel we are more related to Judaism, the official policy of the State of Israel deals with Christians as more closely related to Islam than Judaism. Who is right and who is wrong? Perhaps that is the wrong question. It’s all about perception, and it doesn’t hurt to have our assumptions overturned from to\ime to time.

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