The Church teaches its members “If we have sinned against another person, we should confess to the person we have injured.”
Steven Covey wrote: “A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize.”
While proper personal behavior may not always correspond exactly with proper institutional behavior, it seems reasonable to suggest that when an institution contributes to mistakes that harm others (on whatever level) that the institution, or its leaders, should apologize and seek amends. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has issued many apologies for behavior it regrets, and individuals have called on the Democratic party to apologize for its support of slavery and segregation.
The Church appears to approve of the idea of institutional apologies: for instance, the Church Newsroom recently published a story of a Latter-day Saint woman, Lorna Fejo, who helped Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prepare “a historic apology to indigenous Australians.”
Elder Uchtdorf has acknowledged that members and leaders of the Church have made mistakes:
To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.
The Church, however, refuses to apologize for any harm it may have caused.
Dallin H. Oaks said that the Church doesn’t “seek apologies and we don’t give them.” This is accurate: one can scour all public Church documents and Oaks will be shown correct—the Church has never issued an apology in its entire history.
In fact, when an expression of regret has been interpreted as an apology, the Church has been quick to correct the record. After Elder Eyring expressed “profound regret” over the Mountain Meadows Massacre an Associated Press article reported:
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.
This general attitude (the Church does not apologize) can be seen in all public correspondence. For instance, after being confronted about the Church’s past racist teachings, Gordon B. Hinckley responded:
Look, that’s behind us. Don’t worry about those little flicks of history.