Saying ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t always enough Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

editor's view

Recently it seems like we’ve had an increasing number of celebrities and public figures apologizing for bad behavior.

When politicians, athletes, and entertainers are caught doing something wrong, they say, “I’m sorry.” We get the feeling that these people aren’t really very sorry about what they did — only that they got caught!

They move on with their lives and leave the wreakage of infidelity, heartbreak, violence, and abuse behind them. More than likely they will repeat their bad behavior again — and say “I’m sorry” once more.

Used to be higher standards

Celebrities used to be held to a higher standard. When a well-known person committed a serious sin, it usually meant the end of his or her career. Now, the “bad” celebrities often retain their popularity.

Perhaps that’s because standards of morality have dropped in recent years. Average people sympathize with the celebrities’ bad behavior because they’re doing some of the same things in their own lives.

It’s no wonder that violence, crime, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse continue to climb.  If celebrities can get away with it by saying “I’m sorry,” does it matter what the rest of us do?

It does matter

Of course, our Catholic faith teaches us that it does matter. It matters how we treat other people and it matters what we ourselves do. It will matter when we face God for his judgment of our lives.

Our faith does teach us to say “I’m sorry,” but it asks us to examine our conscience, admit our sins, and promise to sin no more. It asks us to seek God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament emphasizes “conversion of heart.”

Perhaps what’s wrong with the celebrities’ public apologies is that they don’t seem to indicate an interior conversion. It is important to say “I’m sorry” to God and to those we’ve offended. It needs to be accompanied by a real change of heart: to reform one’s life and to sin no more.

While we can’t change celebrities’ lives, we can be sure that any apologies we ourselves give are accompanied by a conversion of heart before we say “I’m sorry.”