mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF apology & blame

Two Kinds of Apologies

Pope Benedict got himself into hot water with Muslims. What the heck was he doing quoting 14th century text anyway — trying to prove he's the brightest boy in class? I always listen carefully when these kind of stupid gaffes are made. Is the apology real or bogus?

Catholics (at least in my old 1950s catechism) distinguish between two kinds of contrition. Perfect: "I'm sorry because I offended my all-loving God." And imperfect: "I'm sorry because I'm afraid of going to hell."

But in the general area of foot-in-mouth apologies, I also see two kinds of contrition. Sincere: "Oh, my goodness, I'm sorry for being such a complete insensitive idiot. I should have known better. What was I thinking?" And totally bogus: "I'm sorry if you were offended."

This latter "apology" is only thinly disguised blame, verging on retaliation. It means: "Oh, for godsake, I'm sorry you have no sense of humor. I'm sorry you are so thick-headed, so unsophisticated that you missed my point totally. I'm sorry you're such a thin-skinned baby."

So here's the actual papal statement. Sincere or bogus?

I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims... These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought... I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect.

I guess popes are into their infallibility thing. Where he should have said, "I blew it," instead he said, "Hey, you whiners, I'm sorry that you took me out of context, so quit being so sensitive and we'll be friends, okay?"

Tsk, tsk..

9.18.06

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