(RNS) Following the lead of Pope John Paul II, Roman Catholic leaders nationwide will apologize this weekend for the sins committed by members of the church against a number of groups, including non-Catholics, homosexuals, Jews and African-Americans.

"We will be looking back to those moments when, through her members, the church was not faithful to herself, to the message of Christ, and it's good for us ... to name those things," said Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, according to the Associated Press. Law was to hold a prayer service Saturday (March 11) to apologize to Jews, African-Americans, non-Catholics and other groups.

Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee and Archbishop Michael Sheehan in Santa Fe will also issue appeals of pardon, the Associated Press reported.

During a service Friday night (March 10), Sheehan was to ask forgiveness from groups such as other Christians, Native Americans and victims of sexual abuse.

Weakland, Sheehan and Law join church leaders in Colorado and California who have already issued apologies.

On Thursday (March 9), Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in Denver asked Jews to forgive Catholics for, among other things, "the ignorance and prejudice which still exist" against Jews. His letter followed an apology Monday (March 6) by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles to homosexuals, members of other faiths and other groups.

"We must continue our many efforts at all levels to bring people together in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation," said Mahony.

The apologies come at the beginning of the Christian season of Lent -- a 40-day period of contrition. Pope John Paul was to ask forgiveness himself for Catholics on Sunday. During a Day of Pardon Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope was to express regret for past wrongs of the Catholic Church, including the Crusades and the Inquisition.

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