Another empty apology, this time from The Collegiate Church in Manhattan. The Collegiate Church is apologizing for the misdeeds committed by long-deceased Dutch-speaking church founders.
Why do I call it an “empty” apology? Because it’s really, really easy to apologize for someone else’s misconduct, especially if the person or persons who behaved badly are 1.) dead and 2.) unrelated to the apologizer and 3.) all but forgotten by history. The apology is even emptier if the people who deserved tha apology are dead and if the apology is unaccompanied by action. In America’s litigious society, nothing says “I’m sorry” like greenbacks. If the people who are apologizing are coughing up cash, that, perhaps, gives the apology a little more ooomph. Otherwise, it just looks like cheap, empty, Baby Boomer group-hug mumbo jumbo.
It’s tougher, of course, to apologize for our own misdeeds and to communicate our own guilt directly to those we have offended. Thus the Lord’s Prayer says “Forgive us oursins (or debts or trespasses) as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
This principle is reflected in the Psalm 51:
“1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest…..”
Again and again, the Psalmist apologizes. Not for his ancestors’ sins, but for his own. “My sin, my transgressions, my sin, my iniquities.” My, my, my.
This is reflected in the old Catholic Mass with its penitential prayer: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
If you’d like to read the AP account of the latest empty apology, it’s below…
By VERENA DOBNIK
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Members of America’s oldest Protestant church have
apologized — for the first time — for the massacre and displacement of
Native Americans 400 years ago.
The Collegiate Church, formerly the First Dutch Reform Church, and
representatives of the Lenape (Leh-NAH’-pee) tribe held a ceremony of
reconciliation Friday in New York City.
The ceremony took place on the spot where the First Dutch Reform Church
once stood. It was known as the “company church” of the Dutch
merchants, whose trading post helped develop the city’s economic power.
The ceremony was held where Broadway begins. Four hundred years ago,
Broadway was an American Indian trail.
The Rev. Robert Chase told the Lenape: “We consumed your resources,
dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture.”