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Scoop Opinion: More Apologies Wanted

Pope John Paul II didn't go far enough in making his appeal to God for forgiveness of the ancient sins committed against humanity by the Catholic Church. But it's time also for The Queen to apologise for the sins of her ancestors. John Howard writes.

For more than a thousand years, and even today, entrenched bitterness has surrounded the actions of the Catholic Church.

John Pawlikowski, a professor of social ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago who participated in a 1998 closed-door Vatican meeting to advise the Pope on the pardon said yesterday, " I would have liked the Pope to express regret for centuries of anti-judaic teaching that has been conveyed through preaching, catechesis and religious art."

" I would have liked the Pope to state that some people who committed sins against the Jews were leaders of the highest level," he said

Israel's chief rabbi, Meir Lau, said he was "deeply frustrated" by the Pope's failure to mention the Holocaust.

And a Catholic mission that ministers to the Roma, or Gypsies, in Rome asked, "Why is the Holocaust of the Gypsies not mentioned?"

The Nazi's also exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies while Pope Pius XII remained silent.

Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor said, "It is high time for the Pope to ask for forgiveness not only for the silence of Pope Pius XII during Auschwitz and the Holocaust, but for all the sins that the church committed toward the Jews in 2,000 years of a very sad history."

Some New Zealanders of the Jewish faith were also deeply offended when most of our Cabinet Ministers of the Crown refused to swear their oaths of office on the Bible because God in the Bible promised the Jews, amongst other things, a national home. They reasoned that if there is no faith by New Zealand's leadership in the Bible then there is no covenant which this nation will honour. They also reasoned that when being sworn in and accepting leadership of a nation-state, private views should not intervene in those affairs.

So, it's also time for The Queen to apologise.

In 1290, King Edward I, a Catholic and one of The Queen's ancestors, expelled all the jews from England after their wealth had been exhausted through the Church and State borrowing and then refusing to pay it back.

And if Jews wished for any reason to live in the country or a place where there were no other Jews, they were expected to obtain royal permission.

And in 1130 all Jews of London were levied what was then a vast fortune - 2,000 pounds: "....for a sick man whom they killed." Apparently a Jewish doctor failed to save a patient's life and the whole Jewish community was punished.

King John, often painted as the evil king even by the script writers of the film Ivanhoe which is currently being filmed in Wellington, was no such thing to the Jews.

He suffered much for his brother Richard's appetite for war and the Crusades which constantly required heavy taxation. John is wrongly blamed by historians for much of Richard's stupidity and neglect of England.

Of the Jews John decreed: "We commit the Jews dwelling in your city to your charge; if anyone attempts to harm them do you always protect and assist them; for in the future we shall require their blood at your hands if through your default any evil happens to them, which Heaven forbid; for we know that these things happen through the foolish people of the town, not the discreet, by whom the folly of the foolish should be restrained."

And it was Pope Innocent III who laid an interdict on England because John would not accept Stephen Langton as his archbishop of Canterbury.

While this modern-day Pope has made an attempt to heal the wounds of centuries they, nevertheless, run deeper than this Pope and this age - even to the Monarchy and the Crown itself.

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