35 years ago here in the United States, the State of Massachusetts passed an Apology Law, and today about 39 states have them. These are laws that say a physician can’t have his/her admission of sorrow used in a malpractice case as an admission of guilt. These laws came about after years of doctors being told by their lawyers to never apologize for a mistake, as it will be used against them in any future lawsuit. The idea behind enacting these laws is that, with an apology and explanation of what caused the unanticipated outcome, a patient would be less likely to seek answers through a medical malpractice claim. Saying “I’m sorry” may cut costs and increase efficiency.
So what would happen if our church was run by a lawyer? Oh, wait, it is! Elder Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice is 1st counselor in the First Presidency. Due to the other two members age, health and personalities, I believe that Pres Oaks probably has an overly significant influence on decisions by the FP than what a normal counselor would have.
Thus we have Elder Oaks in a 2015 interview say the church doesn’t “seek apologies, and we don’t give them.” If you serach church history, you’ll find this is correct. The church has NEVER issued an apology. They came close in 2007 when Elder Erying said this about the Mountain Meadows Massacre:
“We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today, and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time”Elder Eyring, 2007
The head of the Mountain Meadows Massacre Descendants group was happy and said “This is as close as we’ve ever gotten to an apology, so for the time being, we’ll take it.” But the church could not let that happiness last. Church leaders were adamant that the statement should not be construed as an apology. “We don’t use the word ‘apology.’ We used ‘profound regret,'” church spokesman Mark Tuttle told The Associated Press.
The Church likes when other institutions apologize. In 2008 the Mormon Newsroom (small victory for Satan) ran an article with the headline “Mormon Grandmother Helps Australian Prime Minister Say “Sorry”” The articles talk about a Latter-day Saint woman, Lorna Fejo, who helped Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prepare “a historic apology to indigenous Australians.”
Maybe we need to pass an I’m Sorry law for churches. It could say that when a church issues an apology for past wrongs, that said apology should not be construed as limiting the authority or righteousness of current leaders. Could this lead to better outcomes like the I’m Sorry laws do for the medical profession?
In the words of Elton John:
It’s sad, (so sad) so sad
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, (so sad) so sad
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word