|Brazil||CHURCH TO APOLOGISE FOR SINS|
500 years after the first Mass was celebrated in Brazil, the Catholic Church will formally apologize for the "sins and errors" committed by its clergy against Indians and blacks.
The apology will be read today at a special mass near the spot where Friar Henrique de Coimbra celebrated the first Mass on 26 April 1500, four days after the Portuguese expedition made landfall.
Church officials expect some 50,000 people, including more than 300 bishops, to attend the open-air mass in Coroa Vermelha, just outside this seaside resort 500 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro.
"The mass will be a moment of penitence," said the Most Rev. Raymundo Damasceno Assis, secretary general of the National Brazilian Bishops' Conference. "We will ask God to forgive the sins and errors committed by the Catholic clergy against the human rights and dignity of the Indians, the first inhabitants of this land, and the blacks who were brought here as slaves."