An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
CRITICISM OF THE POPE’S APOLOGY began as soon as it was delivered yesterday. It “fell short,” as many said.
I’m trying to understand why that’s the case. As a mostly Caucasian person, I don’t pretend to be capable of comprehending the pain of those who have grown up with the heavy burden of what happened at Canada’s residential schools.
I don’t know what my several indigenous ancestors might have thought about the words of Pope Francis yesterday and as he continues his penitential pilgrimage this week. And yet, we’re all in this together — indigenous and non-indigenous — and all voices need to be part of the conversation.
The words I heard from the pope were humble, heart-felt and sincere. The words “sorry,” “sorrow” and “forgiveness” were prominent in his 1,500-word apology.
One of the major misgivings about his speech is that he didn’t apologize for the collective deeds of the church. It’s an understandable concern but he did come very close when he said, “In the face of this deplorable evil, the church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children. I myself wish to reaffirm this, with shame and unambiguously.”
Another criticism is that he didn’t offer enough in the way of actions. And yet, he did promise concrete action in future, including a major investigation, though he didn’t outline details. Begging forgiveness “is only the first step,” he said.
By the way, he also expressed regret for not being able to come to Kamloops.
It was a momentous event even if the apology was imperfect. “… No effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient,” Pope Francis acknowledged.
Whether or not to accept the apology he was asked to give is, of course, a matter of individual choice, but forgiving its imperfections, and receiving it as one important step, would seem a good way to move forward.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.