In a statement that few seem to realize the true significance of, the Pope of Rome asked for the forgiveness of Jews, Muslims and others, whose peoples had suffered severe persecution at the hand of the powerful Roman Catholic Church through the centuries.
Though obviously weak and wearied with age, Pope John Paul II, the charismatic leader of more than one billion of the world's professing Christians, seemed revitalized by the trip that appeared to be the pinnacle of his Papacy, or even more - what the Pope perceives as the fulfillment of his personal destiny - to reconcile the divisions between, not only all the various denominations of Christendom, but the other main religions of the world as well.
Now understand, although we of True Christian Ministries don't consider the Pope to be the leader of Christ's True Church, we do respect him as a bold and capable world leader whose actions seem to be dictated by a caring heart and sincere desire to make a positive difference in the state of the world today -
Just such a person one would expect might make this unprecedented concession of Papal imperfection.
The reaction to the Pontiff's trip to the Holy Land and his bold appeal for forgiveness was mixed at best:
While many Jews, including (then) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, seemed satisfied with the Pope's broadly worded apology, others felt strongly that the Pontiff's words did not go far enough to heal the deep wounds caused by the Roman Catholic Church's failure under Pius the 12th, to denounce Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people during the
Palestinians, on the other hand, seemed to view the Papal visit to their newly forming state, borne from years of tense negotiations and carved from out of the Israeli occupied West Bank, as a sort of papal validation of their sovereignty over that territory. In fact, Time magazine quotes Yassir Arafat's wife Suha, who was a devout Catholic prior to her marriage, as saying that the Holy Father's very presence there was:
"a clear message for an independent Palestinian state". [Time - 4/3/00 pg36].
Muslim leaders were obviously disturbed by the Pope's concession to the Jewish people.
The chief Muslim leader in the Palestinian territory, The Grand Mufti, Ekrema Sabri, took the occasion to publicly accuse the Israelis of using the Holocaust forgiveness issue as a means for gaining world sympathy, stating to the press just a day before he met with Pope John Paul II, that:
"the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was less than six million" and that "Israel is using this issue to get sympathy worldwide." [ibid -pg36]
Upon meeting with the Pope face to face the following day, the Grand Mufti remarked to the Pontiff:
"We request that you stand by justice in order to end the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem". [ibid]
So go the best
intentions of healing the divisions amongst peoples and faiths.
Throughout the centuries the Popes made good use of this power. First, the Bishops of Rome decreed themselves "Popes," the Vicars of Christ, thus elevating themselves and their power above all other regional Bishops and leaders throughout the early Christian world - and so it has remained.
This would more than explain why no sooner the Pope had spoken his historical words of repentance, that many Catholic leaders back in Rome and around the world made statements that shockingly seemed to undermine the Pope's very words.
It is not hard to understand the reason for this backlash -
It's not hard to see why Catholic Leaders and paritioners alike, who have taught and been taught all their lives, that the head of their Church - The Pope - Vicar of Christ - is infallible, would not want to believe or have anyone else believe otherwise.
That's what made this apology so shocking!
The ramifications of his statement were earth shattering, yet so few seemed to realize it or even care.
He is admitting that the Roman Catholic Church which built it's foundation from the ground up, using "Papal infallibility" as the authority by which it justified all it's actions and decrees -
In reality had no basis for doing so!
Just think of it:
All the Vatican councils - all the Papal Bulls, Edicts and Decrees - all the changes made by the (now admittedly) fallible Popes throughout the church's history, that brought about the syncretization of Christ's truth with the man made traditions and ceremonies that have so polluted the True Gospel of Christ that today, almost no one has so much as even heard it,
Were all enacted without any justification or authority!
And so it was prophesied -
For as Jesus foretold of these End Times, though a great false church and it's daughter churches that came out of her in protest (Rev17), would deceive the world with their false teachings, his little flock (Lk:12-32), would hold fast to his True Gospel message.
Now, reflecting back on the Pope's historic journey, I can't help but think to myself that along with his apology for the church's past
Is to Christ Himself!
|A Papal Apology by Joseph Santora - - ©2001-2002 True Christian Ministries|
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