This person writes:
I have a question about apologizing and I haven’t been able to find an answer anywhere. Does the Church ever tell us we must apologize to others?
The Church calls us to make reparation for our sins in some way. Reparation can look different depending on the circumstances. But certainly an extremely common form of reparation, in many cases, is a simple apology. Often it is all that is needed. But again, that depends on the circumstances.
I’m examining my conscience and realizing that I’ve sinned against a lot of people. I feel guilty for not apologizing, but I don’t know if I should.
It depends entirely on if it will do them good. Many times an apology can be healing for the victim, who needs to know that you realize what you did to them and are sorry for it. But sometimes an apology can be self-indulgent, an attempt by the sinner to make himself feel better, even if forcing the re-opening of old wounds on the victim just re-inflicts trauma. So we have to always think about what is best for the other. God cares about that far more than he cares about ticking off items on a legalistic “to-do” list.
Relatedly, we all have a lot of sins piled up over the years. Apologies are certainly good. But at the same time, don’t make yourself crazy if you can’t remember cheating at tiddly winks when you were ten years old and fail to apologize to Cindy Lu Whosit from down the street. The idea is to make a good faith effort as repairing hurts done, not to destroy yourself with guilt about every forgotten person you may have hurt, not matter how minor it was.
Some people probably either don’t know or don’t remember that I’ve sinned against them. There are a few people I’ve sinned against many times, and it seems insincere (and strange) to randomly issue a lot of blanket apologies. I know the priest can’t make revealing my sins a condition of absolution, but is it a sin not to apologize?
I would say it’s a sin to refuse to apologize when you know they need you to apologize. Keep the focus on them rather than on fulfilling some sort of abstract legal obligation. It’s about repairing relationship and healing open wounds.
Or is this just scrupulosity? Thanks for any help you can provide.
My guess is that you are more in danger of scrupulosity than of callous disregard for God and man. Go to God and ask him to help you think about who, if anybody, needs to hear, “I’m sorry” from you. Then go offer your apologies and Let. It Go. You can’t be responsible for whether or how your contrition is received. You can only do what you can do and then trust God to do the rest.
Hope that helps!