Letter: Catholic Church’s apologies hollow

Times Union [Albany NY]

August 15, 2022

The Catholic Church appears to be in a constant state of “mea culpa.”

In Canada last month, Pope Francis apologized for the abuses Indigenous people suffered in the country’s state-funded residential Christian schools. From the 1800s to the 1970s, Native children were forced to attend the schools where abuse was rampant.

Such papal apologies are a relatively modern phenomenon, according to Jeremy Bergen, a church apology expert and professor of religious and theological studies at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. Bergen noted that “for 1,900 years, churches didn’t apologize for the bad things that they did.”

In 2000, Pope John Paul apologized for Catholics’ sins through the ages, including against women, Jews and other religious minorities.

So many abuses, so many apologies. One must wonder why the abuses continue in spite of the apologies. Consider the following events concerning the abuse of nuns.

In February 2019, Pope Francis publicly acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by Catholic bishops and priests. Nevertheless, in March 2019, the eight editors of Women Church World, the monthly Vatican women’s magazine, resigned in protest over the church’s attempts to silence the all-female staff’s reports of clerical abuse of nuns. These women refused to give in to Vatican pressure. In response, the Vatican’s newspaper started to run articles that contradicted stories in Women Church World.

The incident with the Vatican women’s magazine indicates that the church’s apologies for abuses against women are not genuine. Women are still treated as second-class citizens by the Vatican. I will believe that the Vatican has changed its perspective on women when the church abandons its efforts to control their lives and reproductive rights.

Don Steiner