Once again a very public apology fails to be an apology.
John Hagee employs some of the standard rhetorical devices often used to make a “non-apology” sound like an apology.
“Insofar as some of my past statements regarding the Roman Catholic Church have raised concerns in your community, I am writing in a spirit of mutual respect and reconciliation to clarify my views. Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful. After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of Anti-Catholicism.”
There is so much “conditional” language and avoidance of responsibility in the opening of this letter it is hard to know where to start.
His first sentence notes that he wants to clarify his views. He spends a good deal of the later paragraphs of this letter doing just that … demonstrating that he has never held anti-Catholic views. Why, he even has friends that are Catholic and he once helped an order of nuns!
The standard non-apologetic “deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful” places the responsibility on the listener rather than on the offensive statements. Where is the “I’ve made some very inappropriate and hurtful comments”? Look for the verb in the sentence … it gives you a clue as to who makes the mistakes. For John Hagee, the mistake is that some misunderstood his message.
Bill Donahue, the recipient of the letter wrote:
“After weeks of meeting with various Catholic leaders, and accessing scholarly literature on Catholic-Jewish relations, Pastor John Hagee has demonstrated an improved understanding of the Catholic Church and its history. In his letter to me, Hagee says, ‘I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.’ He specifically cites his emphasis of ‘the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews,’ and has pledged to provide a more complete and balanced portrayal going forward that will not reinforce mischaracterizations of the Catholic Church. And while he stresses that his invocation of terms like ‘apostate church’ and the ‘great whore’ were never meant by him to describe the Catholic Church, he acknowledges that anti-Catholics have long employed such language. The tone of Hagee’s letter is sincere. He wants reconciliation and he has achieved it. Indeed, the Catholic League welcomes his apology. What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns. But he has done just that. Now Catholics, along with Jews, can work with Pastor Hagee in making interfaith relations stronger than ever. Whatever problems we had before are now history. This case is closed.”
I think Bill Donahue is overly optimistic.
Just look at what John Hagee is saying on his own website.
I feel the need after days of media misrepresentation to respond to slanderous accusations about being a religious bigot. It is truly disappointing to me to see how quickly accusation and rumor crystallize into fact in the hands of media outlets, which do not seem interested in subjecting these claims to serious review in search of the truth.
He then continues to defend that he has done nothing wrong.
That’s not an apology Pastor Hagee … that’s defensive justification. This apology doesn’t even use a variation of the word apology!