Should Catholics Apologize to Protestants?

If anyone has a problem with this, when are we going to learn that the way forward is never through recrimination, harboring a grudge and refusing to forgive? An apology and sorrow for what went wrong is always to be welcomed–even if it is only a partial apology or if we suspect the apology is not completely sincere. Any step towards repentance, humility and sorrow for the damages of sin is to be welcomed.

When the pope apologizes for the sins of the past he is taking responsibility and saying, “Look, let’s fix this. Let’s not wallow in anger, suspicion, fear and hatred. Let’s build bridges. Let’s make it better.”

This is a stunning response in a world increasingly driven by negativity, suspicion, fear and hatred.

It is a stunning response and a stunning example.

I have only one difficulty with the apologies that have been issued from Rome on repeated occasions: I am waiting to hear the same from the other side.

I was living in England when Pope St John Paul II issued the apologies during the Jubilee Year. I thought how marvelous it would have been if the Queen, as head of the Church of England along with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York were to set up a similar service of repentance and apology in Westminster Abbey and return the courtesy. It didn’t happen. Perhaps it happened when Benedict XVI visited England and I missed it.

I’m not throwing stones, but I wonder if the World Lutheran Federation or the leaders of the Worldwide Anglican Communion or the global leaders of the Evangelical Alliance have issued similar apologies for the persecution of Catholics. If they have, I applaud it. If they haven’t I wonder why not because forgiveness is always a two way street.

When an apology is offered it needs to be accepted, and if the other party is also guilty a mutual apology needs to be returned.

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