Pope John Paul II made many apologies. During his long reign as Pope, he apologized to Jews, Galileo, women, victims of the Inquisition, Muslims slaughtered by the Crusaders and almost everyone who had suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church through the years. Even before he became the Pope, he was a prominent editor and supporter of initiatives like the Letter of Reconciliation of the Polish Bishops to the German Bishops from 1965. As Pope, he officially made public apologies for over 100 of these wrongdoings, including:
The conquest of Mesoamerica by Spain in the name of the Church
The legal process on the Italian scientist and philosopher Galileo Galilei, himself a devout Catholic, around 1633 (31 October 1992).
Catholics’ involvement with the African slave trade (9 August 1993).
The Church’s role in burnings at the stake and the religious wars that followed the Protestant Reformation (May 1995, in the Czech Republic).
The injustices committed against women, the violation of women’s rights and for the historical denigration of women (10 July 1995, in a letter to “every woman”).
The inactivity and silence of many Catholics during the Holocaust (16 March 1998)
For the execution of Jan Hus in 1415 (18 December 1999 in Prague). When John Paul II visited Prague in 1990s, he requested experts in this matter “to define with greater clarity the position held by Jan Hus among the Church’s reformers, and acknowledged that “independently of the theological convictions he defended, Hus cannot be denied integrity in his personal life and commitment to the nation’s moral education.” It was another step in building a bridge between Catholics and Protestants.
For the sins of Catholics throughout the ages for violating “the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and [for showing] contempt for their cultures and religious traditions”. (12 March 2000, during a public Mass of Pardons).
For the sins of the Crusader attack on Constantinople in 1204. (4 May 2001, to the Patriarch of Constantinople).
On 20 November 2001, from a laptop in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II sent his first e-mail apologising for the Catholic sex abuse cases, the Church-backed “Stolen Generations” of Aboriginal children in Australia, and to China for the behaviour of Catholic missionaries in colonial times.
An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded. — Pope John Paul II