Apologies Are in the Air


Hopeful news comes in threes (I think that’s how the saying goes). I just happened to come across three stories today related to apology and forgiveness.

1. In Bolivia, Pope Francis apologized for the role of the Catholic Church in the harm done to Native Americans:

“Some may rightly say, ‘When the pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks certain actions of the church. I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native people of America in the name of God.”

He added: “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”

2. In the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders suggested that the nation apologize for its participation in slavery and the slave-trade.  

“As a nation we have got to apologize for slavery, and of course the president is the leader of the nation… Obviously nobody in this generation was involved in slavery… But as a nation, slavery is one of the abominations that our country has experienced.”

I may be mistaken, but I thought the Senate had already done this once before. On a related note, Republican Doug Brannon, a state representative in South Carolina, apologized for the Confederate flag that had been flying on the state Capitol grounds for over five decades.

3. Finally, Joshua Oppenheimer has a new film, The Look of Silence. It’s subject is the way that Indonesians are still trying to confront and overcome the government-sanctioned killings that took the lives of a million people suspected of being Communists in the 1960s. I’ve not seen it yet but his last film, The Act of Killing, was mesmerizing. And I have to wonder if the guilty people in the movie have their moments of revelation and apologize for their own pasts.   

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