What exactly is the purpose of an apology?
The Vatican has rejected an apology by Bishop Richard Williamson, who had denied the full extent of the Holocaust, and said the bishop needed to "unequivocally and publicly" withdraw his comments. [BBC News, 27 Feb 2009]. This follows Bishop Williamson's earlier excommunication (which was for reasons unconnected with his opinions about the Holocaust) being controversially cancelled, as I discussed here a few weeks ago [Back into the Fold].
The Catholic Church now feels that Bishop Williamson's apology is ambiguous and grossly inadequate.
In September 2006, the Pope himself was forced to apologize after making some comments about mediaeval Islam. Some Moslems were dissatisfied with the Pope's apology; they felt that his Holiness appeared to be apologizing for the response rather than for the words themselves.
As I said at the time, an apology - especially a forced apology - often reveals a disconnect between intention and outcome. [Papa Ratzi 4]