Home Page Home Page
Front Page News Digest Cardinal George Observations The Interview MarketPlace
Learn more about our publication and our policies
Send us your comments and requests
Subscribe to our print edition
Advertise in our print edition or on this site
Search past online issues
Site Map
New World Publications
Periódieo oficial en Español de la Arquidióesis de Chicago
Archdiocesan Directory
Order Directory Online
Link to the Archdiocese of Chicago's official Web site.
The Catholic New World


Jan. 21, 2007


Father John M. Murphy looks like he was a nice man. His face is open and friendly, and he wears a gentle expression.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Father Murphy, who died Dec. 29 at age 68, but I've spent quite a bit of time these last few days looking at his picture.

That's because in the last issue of the Catholic New World, I didn't look carefully enough, and we ran the wrong picture with Father Murphy's obituary. My apologies to Father Cliff Bergin, the priest (living, I am happy to say) whose picture ran, and to Father Murphy's family. I'd apologize to Father Murphy, too, but I suspect he isn't so interested in worldly concerns anymore-and if he was, that his sense of humor would kick in.

I hope he would forgive me-as I hope those who love him, as well as Father Bergin and his family have.

I can offer no excuse for making such a basic mistake (way back in journalism school, I was taught, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out.") All I can say is that the photos are filed by number, not name, and Father Bergin's was the number just below Father Murphy's. I must have clicked on the wrong number. I certainly did not intend to cause any harm or distress, and I'm sorry.

There. I said I was sorry, and I have asked for forgiveness. Being in need of forgiveness seems to be one of the defining characteristics of human beings. We as a people are always making some mistake, hurting someone else accidentally or on purpose. "Love Story" aside, loving someone means having to say "I'm sorry" over and over and over again, for missteps from treading on someone's toes to deflating his enthusiasm to piercing her heart.

Damage inflicted accidentally still hurts. That's a lesson I try to teach my children, when one bumps heads or elbows with the other. "But it was an accident!" the offending party will say. "It doesn't matter," I say. "You still have to say you're sorry."

More often than I would like, the injured party will hear the forced apology, harrumph and turn away.

"But I said I was sorry!" the offender protests.

"Yes, you did," I acknowledge, loudly enough for both to hear. "But you can't make anybody forgive you. Even though it would be nice-and even if it would make them feel better too."

That's the difference between us and God. We have the promise of God's forgiveness, if we repent for what we have done. Humanity makes no such promises.

We still have the responsibility to make up for any damage we have done, to the best of our ability (see the corrected obituary on Page 32), and to face the consequences, but God's love for us is never in doubt. That's what gives us the confidence to say, "Forgive me Father for I have sinned ." and, I think, what gives us the feeling of lightness that we have when we leave the sacrament of reconciliation.

So, I'm sorry. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to be forgiven.

Martin is a Catholic New World staff writer. Contact her at [email protected]

> Front Page