The call for penance of Jean Paul II
For the Jubilee an exceptional penitential liturgy took place
in Saint Peter Basilica. The Pope first prayed in front of the
Pieta of Michelangelo. The symbol was speaking for itself. Like
the Pieta carrying the crucified body, Jean Paul II was carrying
the sins of his Church.
The cardinals read six main appeals for forgiveness. They concerned
crusades, Inquisition, the Jews, discrimination against women,
Greet this unusual daring of the Roman Catholic
Church throwing off the mask of intolerance, unfairness and violence
it was wearing in certain period of its history. It was adopting
a humble attitude, recognizing its wrongdoing. We would like
that other religious denominations do the same!
After confessing these six sins, I was waiting for a seventh
one. I was dreaming that a cardinal, disciple of St. Francis
of Assisi said: "God, forgive the Church to have confirmed
all along the centuries, the domination of mankind on Nature:
Nature which is plundered, turned upside down, broken into. We
have forgotten that we are part of Nature that we belong to the
line of living beings, we behaved like tyrants towards the living
The plea for a so waited and so necessary forgiveness has to
be followed by acts of reparation to assert a change of direction.
Forgiving is not contradictory to Justice, it assumes it. Forgiving
is not done to give you a good feeling; it opens to the future.
Reconciliation is not built on forgetfulness.
Then asking to be forgiven for non-respecting the women dignity
is well but what are we doing today in the Church to get rid
of the discrimination towards women?
Asking forgiveness for despising the poor and the fringes of
our society it is good, but what matters now is that the Church
takes their side without backing the powerful and the wealthy.
It is also good to ask forgiveness for excluding people for centuries
but what is the Church doing about the suffering of the divorced
people who are re-married and excluded from Holy Communion, the
married priests who are excluded from the ministry, the theologians
who are banned from teaching?
Jean Paul II made a stirring speech to Christians: " No
more attacks against charity in the service of the truth; no
more actions against the communion of the Church; no more lack
of respect for any nation, no more violence, no more discriminations,
exclusions, oppressions, contempt of the poor and the powerless."
Let us hope that the Pope's appeal will go into a practice of
liberation in our lives! Because beyond conversion of the hearts
and evangelical attitudes, they are still the laws and the traditions
that are going on to condemn and exclude. Now is the time in
this Jubilee year to show that the Sabbath is made for man.