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Sorry For Everything - Pope John Paul

In a surprise move on Sunday Pope John Paul asked forgiveness for the many past sins of his Church, including its treatment of Jews, heretics, women, native peoples and babies. However he made no mention about the Church treatment of homosexuals.

Speaking on the first "Sunday of Forgiveness" in the year 2000, the Pope is believed to have made history - his speech is the first time a Catholic leader has asked for such a wide ranging pardon.

The Pope who read the apology in the form of a prayer, catergorised the apology into seven sins - general sins, sins in the service of truth, sins against Christian unity, against the Jews, against respect for love, peace and cultures, against the dignity of women and minorities, and against human rights.

The prayer for "forgiveness for sins against Jews" was read by Cardinal Edward Cassidy and apologised for the sufferings endured by the people of Israel throughout history. The Pope then added he was “deeply saddened” by those who put the Jews through suffering and asked for their forgiveness.

However there was no specific reference to the Nazi Holocaust where six million Jews were killed in concentration camps. Italian Jews had previously called on the pope to be as specific as he could about the Holocaust in the Sunday Mass.

The Pope then apologised for ``violence in the service of truth'' a reference to the the forced conversions of native peoples and the treatment of heretics during the Inquisition and the Crusades.

There was no reference to homosexuals. Gay rights and religous groups had petitioned to be included in the list of those asked for forgiveness.

The prayer for forgiveness from women and minorities said Christians had been ``guilty of attitudes of rejection and exclusion, consenting to acts of discrimination on the basis of racial and ethnic differences.''

The prayer for forgiveness for human rights abuses said Christians had not recognized Christ in the poor, the persecuted and imprisoned and had too often committed ``acts of injustice by trusting in wealth and power.''

Referring to abortion, he said Christians had not defended the defenseless ``especially in the first stages of life.''

Reffering back to Church's early violent treatment of non-believers and forced conversions the Pope said the Church had ``violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions.'' Another prayer mentioned the persecution of gypsies.

The Pope has said often that Catholics should see the start of the millennium as an ideal opportunity to seek forgiveness for past sins.

The Pope also said Christians were ready to forgive others for the abuse suffered by Christians over the centuries.

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