The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 21, 2001

Aline H. Kalbian
Pages 175-189

The Catholic Church's Public Confession
Theological and Ethical Implications

The Catholic Church, as part of the year 2000 Jubilee celebrations, issued a prayer of confession for sins committed in the past. Most notable was the confession for "actions that may have caused suffering to the people of Israel." In this paper I identify two prominent metaphors in the magisterial literature associated with this act of contrition—the metaphor of Church as mother, and the metaphor of repentance as purification of memory. I analyze these metaphors and place them in the context of important conversations about the Catholic Church and the Holocaust, and about collective responsibility and repentance.

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