Pope John/Paul II, who reined from 1978 to 2005, stirred up world wide opinion by his unforeseen statements of recognition and apology for the atrocious and complicit acts carried out by the Catholic Church at certain periods within the course of her historical existence. Although his statements of apology pointed towards specific incidents, there seemed to be an genuine intention to include all the vile acts, emanating from the Church's origination to the present time. To my mind Pope John/Paul's apology was bold and courageous, given the strict, ancient tenets surrounding actions taken by the Church concerning faith and morals. The ancient Church doctrines give the reigning pope the attribute of infallibility whenever he makes a decision concerning faith and morals. This recognition of infallibility comes out of the unbroken line of vicarship dating back to Jesus the Christ, than to St. Peter, and continuing, unbroken to the present pope Francis. St. Peter was the first living vicar of Christ; a living conduit from Jesus the Christ invested with His infallibility.
The Pope's apology, as the Vicar of Christ, certainly brings into question the validity of the doctrine of infallibility. Here we have the head of the Catholic Church, invested with the attribute of infallibility, admitting and apologizing for vile mistakes and complicit acts committed by the Church. The Pope's action must have created waves of outrage through out the hierarchy of the Church. Yet, despite the harsh theological and political reactions he knew he would receive, Pope John/Paul II spoke out.
Some speculate that because of the Pope's deteriorating health he wanted to make this apology the hallmark of his rein, and thus to be recognized by history as the pope of peace, justice, and truth. Although the Pope's poor health might have added urgency to the timing of his apology, I cannot see the motivation being derived from such a selfish desire; rather I take this good man's actions as a peacemaker through out the world and his willingness to be the torchbearer of the virtues of justice and truth to be the guiding intent of his motivation. Any interpretation of his apology as anything other than an act of sincere confession of repentance would be the cynical projection of the interpreter.
The Pope's apology was unexpected and took most every one by surprise, but I believe his impulse towards truth and forgiveness was a dramatic representation of a more universal impulse for truth and justice beginning to unfold through out our entire world. When we listen and pay attention to the events happening, we find empirical evidence that shows that within the present human, collective consciousness there is a germ of the virtues of truth and justice growing within our hearts and minds. This impulse is not simply a reaction to acts of repression and force or is it an act of strict obedience to religious doctrine, but a fundamental, cosmic principle of being, that has impregnated our hearts and has begun to manifest.
The ideas of truth, justice, and tolerance have attached themselves to our collective mind, and within the deliberate and inevitable, steady march of human evolution, will begin their growth towards full expression. These are ideas whose time has come, and we say with Emerson, ..."It is impossible to tilt the beam. All the tyrants, and proprietors, and monopolists of the world in vain set shoulder to heave the bar. Settles evermore the ponderous equator to its line, and man, and mote, and star, and sun, must range to it or be pulverized by the recoil."