By Bruce Johnston, Rome Correspondent SENtoa Vatican officials have clashed over the Pope's plan to issue a "comprehensive apology" for the "past errors" of the Church next month.
The apology — the result of three years work by leading theologians and scholars is not expected to amount to a litany of sins committed by the Church, but to be a more general document, after senior churchmen argued that it would undermine faith in the Church.
The 50-page report, entitled The Church and the Faults of the Past, was called for by the Pope as a way of "purifying the memory of the Church".
It will be the basis of a solemn papal ceremony on March 12.
The most significant opposition to the document has come from a respected group of historians tied to the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. which gave a report to the Pope's doctrinal watchdog. Joseph Ratzinger, who heads the team of theologians arguing that apologies were without value and that the "worst sin for a historian" was "that of anachronism".
The new document, which will not carry the Pope's authority and will have mil!, consultative value, is nonetheless expected to contain an apology for the burning of the Copernican scholar Giordano Bruno at the stake for heresy in 1600.