Photo by Vincent Go
MANILA, Philippines – In a rare move, before representatives of different religions and around 5,000 people, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Friday, October 18, apologized for the sins of the Church against non-Catholics and even the poor.
“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
The cardinal made the apology on the last day of the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE), a 3-day event that aims to rekindle the Catholic faith. He followed in the footsteps of the late John Paul II, who made history by publicly apologizing for the Church's sins in 2000.
In a program for interfaith dialogue, 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.”
He added: “We want to say, we want to ask 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.
“We ask forgiveness of children who did not experience caring. We want to ask forgiveness of the youth that do not find in our communities always a home that will welcome them.
“We want to ask forgiveness of strangers and foreigners and aliens in the land, who were not made to feel that they are our own.
“We want to ask forgiveness of orphans, of widows, of the vulnerable, for they are loved by God; how come we have not loved them?
“And we want to ask forgiveness of the earth that we have abused and misused.
"And to those we have not mentioned, O God, O God, to you we ask forgiveness. And we hope you will not get tired of forgiving us," Tagle added.
'Purify our memories'
The cardinal also apologized to those “who have also hurt us.”
“We want to say we forgive you, we love you, and we hope we can start to build a world of love, justice, truth, and peace, not just for ourselves but for the next generations,” he said.
He also appealed to the public to "purify our memories" – "memories filled with prejudice, of anger, of hatred; memories that we passed on from generation to generation."
He said: "Let us remember how much God has loved us. Let us remember how much God has been patient 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's apology came 13 years after John Paul also apologized for the sins of the Catholic Church.
On the Day of Pardon in March 2000, John Paul 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.”
John Paul, for one, apologized because Christians “have at times given in to intolerance.”
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.”
Sex abuse, fund misuse
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.
A more specific confession of sins took place on Thursday, October 17, also in the PCNE.
Thursday's Confession of Sins in General included the sins of pastors of the Church, of the laity, against social justice, against those “who do not share our faith,” and against “our call to be a community of disciples.”
“Have mercy on us your sinful children for our failing to be servant-leaders of the community entrusted to our care,” a bishop said in the confession of sins of pastors.
For the sins of the laity, the congregation prayed: “Forgive us for not having been faithful to the great commandment of love.”
While Tagle left some things unsaid, his apology, in any case, fits well with his opening message at the PCNE – a call for humility. (Watch Rappler's video report below.)
The PCNE ended Friday afternoon with a message from Pope Francis, who told Tagle he has "high hopes" for the Philippines.
"Don’t get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the young people, and the family," Francis said in a video message. (Watch Rappler's video report below.)
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.