Now, if only it were possible for Americans to publicly apologize. We might have no need for the ridiculous rituals of closure that pervade our culture, not to mention the rite of revenge-as-healing that is capital punishment. If a president could bring himself to apologize for the original sin of slavery, who knows what changes in the destiny of our democracy might be catalyzed? If men were willing to apologize to women for the wickedness of sexism, what new models for intimacy would arise?
There are reasons not to accept an apology: when the pain is still too great or when nothing will change as a result. But this is hardly the case with the pope's atonement. The pain of Christian history is still with us, but so is the prospect of transformation. Hope is the thing with feathers, they say, but for me it's a playground in which all my nightmares have become the stuff of children's games.
Just don't ask me to accept John Rocker's apology.