Why Can’t The Pope Apologize?

Pope Benedict XVI’s American adventure has come to an end.

The Catholic leader performed his final mass at New York’s Yankee stadium Sunday, during which he briefly addressed the sex abuse scandal, a running theme in his Stateside visit.

In a glancing reference to the sexual abuse of children by priests, he said that praying for the kingdom of God “means not losing heart in the face of adversity, resistance and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness.”

Benedict and his colleagues obviously want to put the scandal behind them, but such an ending most likely won’t come to pass.

There was anger even as the Pope offered his initial abuse address, as he flew over to Washington DC. And that anger does not seem to be dying down. MWC News Editor Robert Weitzel definitely isn’t letting the issue be swept under the carpet. He penned a scathing review of the Pope’s “apology” and also insists the Pope offer a few more apologies:

A “penitent” Benedict said that he was “deeply ashamed” of the pedophile priests who scandalized the Catholic Church in the U.S. He said, “It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the Church in general and for me personally that this could happen.” He did not dwell on the suffering of the 13,000 victims, one of whom described what happened to her as an “abuse of her soul.”

There are a number of other people to whom he needs to apologize: [such as the] gays whom he called emotionally immature and homosexuality “objectively disordered…

One can’t help but wonder why the Pope can’t muster an apology.

Perhaps it’s his holiness’ humility. As he said during his American tour: “No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving, pastoral attention.” While that would make a convenient explanation, it sounds like a cop-out. More likely, the Pope refuses to say “I am sorry,” because such a confession would inherently highlight the Church’s guilty conscience. And the Pope can’t have the international movement implicated in this largely American dust up. As the Catholic Church says,

The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God like the “prodigal son” and to acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before the priest.

Modern society has lost a sense of sin. As a Catholic follower of Christ, I must make an effort to recognize sin in my daily actions, words and omissions.

As Ashley Hall points out, the Pope previously worked in the Vatican’s legal department. He knows the exact depth and horror of the abuse, which, according to the Church, was afflicted on at least 13,000 kids. The Pope’s knowledge, however, didn’t make it into his claims of shame.

Like an ex-gay preacher man, Pope Benedict XVI’s asking for suppression, rather than forgiveness. Thus, the Church’s road to reconciliation remains unpaved.