Friday, 6 October 2017

FORGIVENESS - PLUSSES AND MINUSES

Does Forgiveness Have a Dark Side?
Recent research suggests that forgiveness may sometimes impede 
positive change.


juliana breines


  • Assistant Professor
  • Behavioral Science
  • University of Rhose Island



Forgiveness is widely considered to be a psychologically healthy and morally virtuous approach to coping with victimization. Research suggests that people who forgive more easily are happier and healthier than those who hold grudges. In addition, forgiveness interventions have been shown to reduce stress reactivityincrease optimism, and facilitate reconciliation with offenders.



Definitions of forgiveness vary, but most include two key elements: 1) intentionally letting go of negative emotions, such as anger and hostility, towards the offender; and 2) intentionally cultivating positive emotions, such as compassion and benevolence, towards the offender. Some definitions also involve seeking contact with rather than avoiding the offender.
Forgiveness advocates emphasize that forgiveness is not the same as excusing or condoning an offense, nor should it involve putting oneself in a position to be harmed again. Supporting this perspective, some research suggests that forgiveness can deter offenders from repeating their offenses. In one set of studies, participants reported that they would be less likely to repeat a transgression against a stranger who had forgiven as opposed to not forgiven them, and another set of studies found similar results in married couples.
Some have proposed that forgiveness could deter repeated offenses because of the norm of reciprocity, which dictates that positive acts (like forgiveness) should be reciprocated with positive acts (like avoiding repeating the offense). Others have countered, however, that the positive act of forgiveness may be reciprocated by a positive act that is not directly related to the offense, such as giving a gift.
In fact, research suggests that forgiveness may in some cases increase the likelihood of revictimization. A recent longitudinal study of newlywed couples found that spouses who expressed forgiveness more readily experienced steady rates of psychological and physical aggression from their partners over a four-year period, whereas less forgiving spouses experienced a decrease in aggression. Related studies have shown that more forgiving spouses are more likely to experience declines in relationship satisfaction over time if their partners frequently engage in negative behaviors, and that forgiveness can erode forgivers’ self-respect if offending partners have not made sufficient amends. Furthermore, in a daily diary study, spouses were more likely to report being the victim of a transgression on days after they reported forgiving their partner, compared to other days.
Why might forgiveness fail to reduce problematic behaviors?
According to theories of operant learning, people are less likely to engage in negative behaviors if these behaviors have adverse consequences. By reducing adverse consequences such as criticism and isolation, forgiveness may remove an important source of motivation for offenders to change. Supporting this perspective, one study of romantic partners found that direct expressions of anger and criticism were associated with increases in partners’ willingness to make positive changes.
Some degree of anger may also have benefits for victims as it can motivate them to steer clear of a potentially dangerous person. This is especially important in cases of intimate partner violence, where giving a violent partner a second chance could put one’s life at risk. Although forgiveness need not entail reconciliation, research suggests that people who forgive violent partners may be more likely to stay in the relationship.



Forgiveness may also have a dark side when it comes to correcting social inequality. Some research suggests that encouraging members of disadvantaged groups to forgive groups that have discriminated against and harmed them may reduce their motivation to address social inequality. In one study, indigenous Australians who were encouraged to think of an injustice perpetrated against them (the Stolen Generations) in a way that fostered forgiveness (i.e., appealing to common humanity) reported being less willing to engage in collective action on behalf of their group—this included willingness to participate in a peaceful demonstration aimed at improving the position of indigenous Australians and volunteering their time to help people in indigenous communities.
Forgiveness may quell destructive desires for revenge and retaliation, but at the same time it may reduce feelings of anger and frustration that can be channeled constructively into social change. Efforts to foster forgiveness for historic and current injustices may be most effective when they are joined together with equally strong efforts to attain justice. 



The likelihood that forgiveness will promote or impede positive change, whether in close relationships or on a broader scale, depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the offense, the number of times it has been repeated, and efforts of the offending party to make amends. If an offense is severe, repeated or prolonged, and the offender does not take responsibility or try to correct their behavior, forgiveness may be less likely to elicit positive change and may be more likely to put a victim in danger.
For many people, forgiveness can bring great relief and peace, but for others it may not be the best solution. Alternative ways to cope with victimization that don’t require forgiveness include practicing self-compassion (recognizing the injustice one has suffered and offering kindness to oneself), mindfulness (allowing oneself to feel hurt and angry), and connecting with and offering support to other victims. Sometimes giving oneself permission not to forgive—without feeling a sense of moral failure—can be just as liberating as choosing to forgive.

PAT SAYS:

The word FORGIVENESS like the word LOVE has become a much bandied about word and very often we do not think of the whole dynamic required in people being sorry for what they did and their victims forgiving them.

Those who cannot forgive - or who refuse to forgive is sometimes made to feel morally and socially INFERIOR.

I think that Dr. Breines piece above is a challenge to us all to think more deeply about that word and concept FORGIVENESS.

Let us not forget that those who have been hurt in the wrong have a RIGHT to the acknowledgment of their hurt - and a right to a sincere and heartfelt apology by the one or entity that hurt them.

The ideal scenario surely is when the person/entity who did the hurting asks forgiveness of their victim - allowing the victim to forgive or not to forgive?

The old thoughts behind Catholic Confession are helpful here. It goes more or less like this:

1. The offender is truly sorry for the offence and says so.

2. The offender is asked to do something to show the sincerity of their sorrow (penance).

3. The offended promises not to commit the offence again.

4. The offender is forgiven.

Someone sent me this beautiful video of a Holocaust victim forgiving their abuser:



I stand before this lady with awe - and dumbstruck by her spirit and by her strength.

And in her case her torturers are dead.

If they were still alive and still conducting medical experiments on Jewish children would she also forgive?

But Dr. Breines warnings are to be taken seriously. The dangers of :

1. An abuser/offender continuing their behaviours because they were forgiven and did not feel the consequences of their actions.

2. The danger of a victim forgiving and not steer clear of the dangerous person or other dangerous people. 

3. The danger of those who are forgiven of continuing their discrimination or injustice.

4. The danger of a forgiving victim not realising that they must challenge the wrongdoing.

And finally the alternatives to forgiveness:

1, Self-compassion.

2. Allowing oneself to feel the hurt and connecting with other victims.

3.  Sometimes giving oneself permission not to forgive—without feeling a sense of moral failure—can be just as liberating as choosing to forgive.

Over to you dear reader..................................



58 comments:

  1. Archdiocese of Liverpool is having their clergy retreat with you Pat at the Drumalis Retreat Centre, Larne next Mon-Thurs.

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    1. Leave true Catholic Priests alone Pat. They don't need you intruding on their time of retreat. Keep your camera to yourself and M.Y.O.B....

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    2. 15:14, 'true Catholic priests'? There is only one priest, Jesus.

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  2. Here's a counter argument to Dr. Breines, published earlier this year by the American Psychological Society (Part I):

    Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health
    By Kirsten Weir 
    January 2017, Vol 48, No. 1

    Everett Worthington, PhD, had been studying forgiveness for nearly a decade when he was faced with the worst possible opportunity to put his research to the test: His mother was murdered in a home invasion. Though police were confident they'd identified the perpetrator, the man was never prosecuted. There was no justice. But despite the tragic nature of that loss, it didn't mean forgiveness was off the table.

    "I had applied the forgiveness model many times, but never to such a big event," says Worthington, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. "As it turned out, I was able to forgive the young man quite quickly."

    Worthington hardly describes himself as a superstar forgiver, however. Developing the skill took years of practice, he says. "I had a professor in grad school that gave me a B, and it took me 10 years to forgive that guy."

    Most of us will never be faced with forgiving such a devastating offense as the murder of a loved one—an example of what Loren Toussaint, PhD, a professor of psychology at Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa, calls "heroic forgiveness." Yet nearly everyone can benefit from being more forgiving, Toussaint says.

    Whether you've suffered a minor slight or a major grievance, learning to forgive those who hurt you can significantly improve both psychological well-being and physical health.
    "Forgiveness is a topic that's psychological, social and biological," he adds. "It's the true mind-body connection."

    What is forgiveness?
    Many people think of forgiveness as letting go or moving on. But there's more to it than that, says Bob Enright, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who pioneered the study of forgiveness three decades ago. True forgiveness goes a step further, he says, offering something positive—empathy, compassion, understanding—toward the person who hurt you. That element makes forgiveness both a virtue and a powerful construct in positive psychology.
    Outside scientific circles, though, many people are a bit confused about the concept.
    One common but mistaken belief is that forgiveness means letting the person who hurt you off the hook. Yet forgiveness is not the same as justice, nor does it require reconciliation, Worthington explains. A former victim of abuse shouldn't reconcile with an abuser who remains potentially dangerous, for example. But the victim can still come to a place of empathy and understanding. "Whether I forgive or don't forgive isn't going to affect whether justice is done," Worthington says. "Forgiveness happens inside my skin."

    Another misconception is that forgiving someone is a sign of weakness. "To that I say, well, the person must not have tried it," says Worthington.

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  3. (Part II):
    And there may be very good reasons to make the effort. Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, as well as with fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates. In fact, researchers have amassed enough evidence of the benefits of forgiveness to fill a book; Toussaint, Worthington and David R. Williams, PhD, edited a 2015 book, "Forgiveness and Health," that detailed the physical and psychological benefits.


    Enright believes there are other important mechanisms by which forgiveness works its magic. One of those, he suggests, is "toxic" anger. "There's nothing wrong with healthy anger, but when anger is very deep and long lasting, it can do a number on us systemically," he says. "When you get rid of anger, your muscles relax, you're less anxious, you have more energy, your immune system can strengthen."

    In one meta-analysis, for example, Yoichi Chida, MD, PhD, found that anger and hostility are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, and poorer outcomes for people with existing heart disease (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2009).

    Putting in the effort
    As with any human trait, some people are naturally more forgiving than others. Worthington has found in his research that more forgiving types tend to have higher levels of agreeableness and lower levels of neuroticism. People who have a tendency to ruminate are generally less quick to forgive, since they are more likely to hold onto grudges or hurt feelings. People who have a religious faith also seem to have an upper hand in forgiving. "All of the major religions value forgiveness," Worthington notes.

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  4. (Part III):
    Being forgiving can pay off, as Toussaint and colleagues found in a study exploring the relationship among stress, psychological well-being and forgiveness. They found, as expected, that people who had greater levels of accumulated lifetime stress exhibited worse mental health outcomes. But among the subset of volunteers who scored high on measures of forgiveness, high lifetime stress didn't predict poor mental health (Journal of Health Psychology, 2016). The power of forgiveness to erase that link was surprising, Toussaint says. "We thought forgiveness would knock something off the relationship [between stress and psychological distress], but we didn't expect it to zero it out," he says.

    There's also good news for the grudge holders and revenge seekers of the world. With practice, most anyone can learn to be more forgiving. "You don't have to be the world's most forgiving person," Toussaint says. "If you work at it, it takes the edge off the stress and ultimately that helps you feel better."

    Developing empathy is a good place to start. He says that journaling or expressive writing with the goal of being empathetic can help. Angry about your boss's rude remark? Try to put yourself in her shoes. Maybe she's under a lot of pressure. The project isn't going as planned. I'm not always perfect. "Writing with an empathetic tone ... can nudge you into a more positive place," he says.

    Toussaint's research has also found that for religious people, prayer can boost forgiveness. He and his colleagues studied Americans and Indians, representing Christian, Hindu and Muslim backgrounds. He found that those who said a brief prayer for their romantic partner were less likely to exhibit retaliatory motives when presented with statements such as "When my partner wrongs me, I do something to even the score" (International Journal of Psychology, 2015).
    Unfortunately, Toussaint says, many people give up too soon and conclude they're just not forgiving. He urges people to keep trying, even when it's hard. "A natural resurgence of unforgiving feelings is normal," he says. "It's like having a piece of cake during a diet. Just because you have a setback doesn't mean you're an unforgiving person."

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    1. 02:03, what arrant nonsense! Forgiveness does not require reconciliation? Rubbish! Does God forgive us if we don't repent? Balderdash!

      That psychologist is right about one (and only one) thing: there is more to forgiveness than letting go.

      Forgiveness is healing; that's its whole point. But medicine can't heal if it isn't taken. An offender who refuses to say 'sorry' for his offence is refusing to take his medicine.

      I cannot take seriously someone who, according to you, forgave a murderer 'quite quickly', whereas it took him 'ten years' to forgive a professor for awarding him a 'B' grade.

      This entire, protracted and silly anecdote cheapens the meaning of forgiveness.

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    2. Re/10.53

      Hello Magna... I was thinking about that person who forgave murderer "quite quickly" but not the professor etc that you mentioned..I do believe it could happen...one of the vagaries of human nature and how people perceive things.. I obviously don't know any of his details but I imagine that he probably was able to somehow get a sense of seeing how the murderer was at the moment of the crime eg absolutely in anger.. or completely out of control.. perceived self- defence.. in state of drink or drugs.. lashing out with no thought of the consequences etc. So the person in a sense could manage to see where the murderer "was coming from" although he, himself disapproved strongly of the murder.
      But then he broods on his apparently trusted, sane and rational College professor who knew all his students' strengths and abilities and the work they had put in over the last three or four years. The student had obviously a great academic track record and expected the professor to be fair to him and to have his achievements acknowledged by an A. Then comes the bitter blow. There's no A.
      Years later he re-lives his disappointment and it is harder for him to accept and understand the perceived miscarriage of justice than to see how it was with the murderer whose crime.. though much worse.. didn't hit the heart so personally.
      So I kind of "get it" when the person says he finds it harder to forgive the B grade. (You or I might have seen it differently but we can see his version..)

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    3. 12:15, I appreciate that you took the time to reply to my comment, but I cannot appreciate most of its content.

      For a start, for Dr Worthington to state that he forgave a murderer 'quite quickly', without providing any personal and/or social context for his decision (?, or just an ebbing of anger, etc) was irresponsible, personally and empirically. In the abscence of such vital information, his 'forgiving' appears flippant. And flippancy is the first casualty of caprice, in other words, 'it doesn't last'.

      You didn't address my primary point: that forgiveness is healing, not just of self, but of other. Which means that it does, as of right, involve reconciliation: a restoration of fractured relationship. This cannot happen if an offender refuses to own up to wrongdoing and to seek the only justice that matters here: the pardon of the person he hurt.

      According to the above posts on Dr Wothington, this fundamental issue isn't even mentioned, let alone satisfactorily addressed.

      I don't doubt that Dr Worthington experienced something towards the murderer, but whatever it was, it wasn't an act of forgiveness, if the murderer did not seek pardon.

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    4. Thanks Magna... No...no. 1 wasn't setting out to address all the points in your post in that sort of complete way.. I was merely making the point that I, personally, could see how such a situation could arise as had been described in the earlier post! That was all.
      Believe it or not though, I did hit on some of the ideas you mentioned but I would need to have the time and patience to scroll back through other posts I made in the past.. I will say one quick thing.....a victim's ability to feel he can forgive --or not feel that he can forgive --does not always depend on the severity or even the number of times an offence was perpetrated. That is the point I was making. It is an emotion that is nowhere as rational. That's why someone from whom you expected better treatment does something relatively minor and it bugs you more and for far longer than a bigger offender. Why? Because, in spite of your anger at the bigger offender, you can at least partly see what provoked him or you somehow have a sense of his view of the situation as well as your own.

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    5. @2:03, I would respectfully disagree with you. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two distinct psychological processes. Forgiveness is essentially internal and does not require reconciliation, which is an external process of repairing a relationship. For example, a person can come to forgive someone who is deceased for wrongs done, which obviously cannot include reconciliation or an expression of regret or remorse from the other.

      I'd also point out that Worthington's research has resulted in 22 (so far) randomized control trials (the gold standard of psychological research) in peer reviewed journals which indicate that actually he is on to something.

      In regard to his anecdotes regarding the ability to forgive a murderer but taking longer to forgive a professor who gave him a B, I would say that (a) the latter occurred when he was a young student and the former when he was much older and (b) the latter was based in pride which is a significant obstacle to forgiveness, whereas the former wasn't.

      Finally, I would say that the article in today's blog post by Dr Breine can be construed as a license to hold on to bitterness rather than to embrace the radical call to forgiveness expressed in the Gospel, which does not require any statement of apology before forgiveness is given, which, would seem to me, to validate rather than detract from Dr. Worthington's research.

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    6. 17:36, since you mentioned the Gospel, if we do not apologise to God for our sins, ('repent of them', in other words) are we forgiven regardless? Because this is what your post implies.

      A twin pillar of Jesus' incarnate mission was to call humanity to repentance, a form of apology in deeds rather than words; but an apology nonetheless.

      As Christians, the model for our forgiving one another is God's forgiving us; and this requires repentance, in other words, saying 'sorry' to God for failing him and for failing one another.

      Your post is potentially not only psychologically damaging, but spiritually dangerous, since it suggests that forgiveness should come (indeed, from God DOES come) at no personal cost to an offender. Its presumptiousness reminds me of the words attributed to Heinriche Heine, a German poet and journalist, as he was dying. A priest had asked Heine whether he thought God would forgive his sins. Heine answered (as flippantly as you have posted): 'Of course God will forgive me; that's his job.'

      (Wow! Heaven must be full of unapologetic...unrepentant...souls.)

      To be forgiven here requires repentance (an apology); this is the door through which God's forgiveness (grace) enters the human heart and mind, and heals...BY RECONCILIATION.

      Forgiveness (genuine forgiveness, not the faux kinds suggested here by some) is inseparable from reconciliation.

      No, reconciliation does not have to be socially and/or physically relational to be counted as such (this is a highly restrictive view of the process), because it can be spiritual as well. This ennables even the dead to be reconciled with the living. And such souls can 'express' remorse, by our presumption that if they truly are with God, then they would regret the hurt they caused even more than they would were they still alive.

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    7. By your definition, Jesus’ act of forgiveness on the cross was invalid as no one who put him there apologised. For reconciliation, I agree that an apology is required. I disagree that it is required for forgiveness. The research being produced would seem to indicate you are wrong regarding the psychological effects of pursuing forgiveness without an apology. And I have yet to see any evidence that Scripture requires an apology before we are called to forgive.

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    8. Fred @ 00:19, you did not answer my question. Does God forgive us for our sins if we refuse to show contrition, to repent?

      Forgiveness was OFFERED on the cross, yes; but it was not imposed from it.

      And remember that only one of the two thieves, Dismas, openly accepted Jesus' offer of forgiveness. It was only after this that Jesus could promise Dismas Paradise that very day.

      Jesus' prayer from the cross ('Father, forgive them...') is not what some appear to think: an appeal by Jesus to forgive those present who did not show contrition for his ill-treatment and crucifixion (such an interpretation is spiritually very dangerous), but a cry to the Father to show them mercy (on account of their ignorance of Jesus' nature and mission) that they might come to repentance, to a state where they could accept God's forgiveness.

      These words of Jesus appear only in Luke's gospel, and were likely attributed to Jesus by the Gentile author of Luke, who is known among biblical scholars for his sympathy with the Romans.

      Luke has Jesus cry out these words in recognition that the sin the Romans committed is morally less culpable, since they (not being Jews) could not have known Jesus as the Messiah. The cry alludes to a passage in the Old Testament book, Numbers (15:27-31), where this distinction between categories of sinner is made and where corresponding punishments are prescribed.

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    9. @00:19, in seeking forgiveness from God, we're seeking it in the context of reconciliation. The purpose of seeking forgiveness is to achieve reconciliation. So in that context, contrition is necessary for reconciliation. However, forgiveness and reconciliation can be separate and distinct realities, as Jesus' action on the cross clearly demonstrate.

      You are conflating forgiveness and justice. That Jesus forgave those who had crucified does not mean that he absolved them of guilt or meant for them to evade eternal justice. If a person forgives the person who murdered a loved one without receiving an apology, it does not release the person who committed the murder from prison. It does not impinge upon God's judgement of the person who committed the murder. What it does is free the person who forgave from harbouring bitterness and hatred.

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    10. Fred @ 18:15, you still haven't answered my question. And it leaves my wondering why.

      Does God forgive our sins even if we refuse to show contrition, to repent?

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    11. Contrition is necessary as it is a symbolic act of restorative justice in terms of reconciliation. The purpose in seeking forgiveness from God is to restore the relationship which was damaged by the injustice of not giving God the love and obedience that he is due. Forgiveness, in this context, is God's merciful response that brings about the reconciliation.

      However, reconciliation is not universally associated with forgiveness, and forgiveness can be given without seeking reconciliation, as exemplified by Jesus on the cross. In those instances, forgiveness is not about justice, and does not pardon or excuse the offender in any way. It is simply the person letting go of bitterness and hatred whereby they no longer bear ill-will or ill-feelings to the offender.

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    12. 19:44, still waiting an answer.

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    13. I've answered you twice. If you don't like or can't understand the answer, there's not really much I can do about that.

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    14. Human pride. Such a damnable thing, 19:44.

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  5. Forgiveness is difficult in the Church. Bishops who think they speak for God often fail to see their errors. Clerics who suffer are often being hurt on an ongoing basis. We find it difficult to forgive knowing that the next phone call will bring more of the same.

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  6. You cannot forgive unless you know what you are forgiving.

    For example, there was much talk about forgiving Keith O’Brien for pooving on young priests and seminarians, which was only ever described a scandal or disgrace without details of his poovery.

    The old pulpit poove even suggested at one point he should be doing the forgiving as if he was the victim in all of it!

    Also, there the Lord Longford syndrome, that is, forgiving someone the wrong they have done when you personally were not the wronged person.

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    1. Ah.... the interesting old university debate!.... Was the offence truly just damaging to the one perceived victim?? Was he indirectly damaging to you as a member of that organisation or institution or of society in general as well?
      Did he weaken the ethos of respect in the organisation and so make it easier and more "acceptable" for others to copycat his actions? Did he cause new rules and restrictions and laws to be passed which ultimately curtailed your freedoms (Think about that one!)

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  7. Lord Longford Syndrome. He was used and manipulated by the evil Myra Hindley. Did she ever seek forgiveness?

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  8. When it comes to forgiveness there is no one fits all approach.

    But it does need discussion.

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  9. So where is obrien now?

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    1. Living in the North of England with his dog and receiving many Scottish visitors everyday who come bearing gifts.

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    2. Drink I imagine.

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    3. Pat @ 10.39. Again, in the midst of a serious discussion on forgiveness and healing, you can't resist your snide, jeering remarks about Cardinal O' Brien. I truly believe you haven't worked out all your own personal inner turmoils. Why do you feel the need to judge, condemn and make fun of people's failures and wrongdoing? I fail to understand such anti Gospel, Un-Christ like behaviiyr. I believe you should reflect seriiysly on some worthwhile comments made today. Are we written off completely and to be the butt of your atrempted humour on the evidence of our failings? Does God nt expect some charity from us towards one another? Pat you trivialise too many issues with flippancy of yoyr tongue!!

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    4. Has O'Brien apologised to the seminarians he abused?

      Are they happy about his/The church's response to them?

      Did Rome take any disciplinary steps with him?

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    5. And are the laity keeping him in luxury ?
      Did the Rc church prescribe any penance ?
      Did the rcchurch give any public reprimand to him ?

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    6. Has he apologised for his anti-gay comments?

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  10. 10.14 Hindley should be enjoying hell by now. She never sought forgiveness.

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    1. WE cannot say that surely?

      Is that not God's decision?

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    2. That is correct, Pat... We have absolutely no way of knowing for sure what the mindset of any sinner such as Myra H.before her death.

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    3. She was Catholic and used to go to Confession.

      It was sad that she did not let relatives know where bodies were - even at the end of her life :-(

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    4. I think the sticking block about forgiveness still seems to be

      a) people STILL think of it as taking a weak position. It is not.
      It is a sign of immense strength to overcome. The old saying that it "takes a big man to forgive" is as true as ever it was.

      b) people confuse forgiveness with condoning. They are NOT the same and one does not imply the other.

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  11. Is someone who is not sorry for their actions entitled to forgiveness???

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    1. 11.56 Forgiveness is more for the welfare of the person who for gives than fixing the head of the person who did the damage. If the other person accepts the forgiveness it may be an added bonus

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    2. God requires (as in the Sacrament of Reconciliation) that we have sorrow for our wrongdoing and a "purpose of amendment". He can see your perpetrator's mindset. It would be extremely helpful to you if you could see his repentance too but sadly that may/might not be possible for any number of reasons. So that leaves you with the even more difficult task of forgiving while still being in a state of doubt as to whetheryour perpetrator sees his guilt, but you must carry on and do your forgiving anyway. Why?
      Because ultimately forgiveness is your balm and gift to yourself. You don't need his permission. It is the way that you heal and move on (See the excellent poster who discussed this yesterday on this blog and re-read if you have time) Think also about some of the points made by good people today who deal with these things... From a purely spiritual point of view. forgiveness is asked of you and will bring God's blessings raining into every area of your life and above all, bring you peace of mind from a position of strength. I don't need to quote you what Jesus told His friends when they asked Him to word a prayer for them so that they, too could talk to the Father as He appeared to be doing.
      "Our Father.... forgive us our trespasses as we forgive..."
      So the very best thing is.. we get on with our part of the forgiveness (our gift to ourselves) and leave the it to the complete Justice of God to deal with the perpetrators. God is the one Judge who doesn't need a jury and He doesn't make mistakes. Trust Him with the situation. Ultimately you have to accept that He will be completely fair to everyone but will reward the forgiver beyond all measure, whatever number of times he managed to turn the other cheek. Cecily.

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    3. Jesus seemed to think so according to Luke's portrayal of the crucifixion.

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  12. When someone commits an act that harms another, the balance of the whole community is disturbed. To restore the balance, a healing process must take place. Forgiving the wrongdoer is the last stage in that process—but at least four crucial processes must take place before forgiveness is appropriate.

    The first, of course, is to stop the harm. The hurtful actions must cease, the violence or destruction or exploitation must end, before forgiveness is appropriate.

    The second is Acknowledgement. The person who has committed an act of harm must acknowledge that they’ve done so, and be willing to hear and listen to the effects of their actions.

    The third is Repentance. The wrongdoer must regret the act and be willing to change. An apology is also in order—and a wise person once defined an apology as “something that actually makes the person you’ve hurt feel better.” An apology is not an excuse, a justification, a comparison to others who perhaps have done more odious things, or a new, veiled attack on the person you’ve harmed. An apology is not, “Why are you making such a big deal about this?” or “Here’s what you did to me” or “She hit me first!” It’s some variation of “I’m truly sorry, and I won’t do it again.”

    The fourth is Making Amends—The wrongdoer must accept responsibility and do whatever he or she can to alleviate the harm, repair the damage, restore what has been taken or destroyed. If this requires the wrongdoer to make some sacrifices or suffer some losses, that’s part of taking responsibility.

    Unless these four conditions have been met, forgiveness can be premature and become a form of collusion. Women are constantly being asked to forgive abusers. But unless the abuse is stopped, and the abuser acknowledges, repents, and makes amends for the harm he or she has done, calls for premature forgiveness are a form of victim-blaming that compound the damage.

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    1. Re, poster @ 12.00

      Yes, that "four crucial processes." model of forgiveness and the way forward can be extremely useful,. It is often used in cases of domestic violence and in cases of school or workplace bullying.
      It is suitable if you have access to the perpetrator(s) and he/she is co-operative..
      But it is also very important to realise not only its strengths, but also its limitations.
      Very often, we require much more for the victim when this cooperation is not possible or forthcoming.
      There are other fuller models and understandings of exactly what forgiveness is.
      Confusing it with condoning and collusion is not helpful in the long run.. They are very different things.
      What if the victim is still damaged and cannot forgive years after her perpetrator has died...emigrated... refused to ever speak to her again? Is she to be stuck in her grieving for life? No. I say she has to be enabled to see how to deal with it unilaterally.. how to move on with her life with a happy and healthy mind.
      This may challenge aspects of the model you outlined but it shouldn't really... It is an extension of it but with some important differences which would occasionally be essential for its successful use.

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    2. Excellent...

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  13. Forgiveness is both a decision and an emotion. Sometimes a person may feel they can not forgive and this has to be acknowledged and worked with with appropriate Support. Jesus says forgive 70 times 7. Hurt should not hold us captive. Thing is can we trust our churches in a modern world as places to unmask our vulnerability. Certainly in the past I couldn't and this contributed to a sad and destroying condition

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  14. So much of what has been said reminds me of the 12 steps of AA. There has to be a "rigorous honesty" in a person's self understanding and true contrition about making amends to those whom we have hurt. Forgiveness has to be first and foremost an internal disposition, whether or not it is verbally expressed, otherwise we can live in a state of resentment. It has been said that bitterness is a poison that a person drinks HIMSELF in the hope that it will kill SOMEONE ELSE. On the other hand, premature attempts at the dialogical imperative and bridge building can enable a narcissist's wrongdoing by possibly suggesting that they have not done anything wrong. To such a person, being confronted with a description of the negative impact that they have had on someone else's life will be experienced by them as an attempted annihilation. In this as in many other issues in life the counsel of Saint Benedict would seem apposite: 'Ne quid nimis ...' neither too little nor too much but the balance.

    In faith,
    Brother Jim

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  15. Dear Pat it seems some Religious Order's could use a hand with their own internal reconciliation!
    The following is today's offering from the blog 'Occasional Scribbles' written by the Irish Dominican Fr Michael Commane OP.

    'A letter presenting itself as a filial correction of Pope Francis for reputed errors and heresies has been signed by over 60 Catholic clergy and scholars, including most prominently Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St Pius X group.
    Thomas Crean, a member of the English Dominican province, is one of the signatories of the letter.
    He has been invited to give a talk in the Dominican Priory, St Saviour's, Dublin on November 2.
    The title of the talk: 'Is Christ really a king - The relevance of God in present-day politics'.
    It seems the Irish province of the Dominican Order is now more aligned to the St Pius X group than it is to the thinking and direction of Pope Francis.'

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    1. Who exactly would have issued the invitation?

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    2. The same good father is taking another swipe at his province in his post today.

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    3. By all accounts there's plenty of reason for the said swipes. It seems we havent heard the half of it.

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  16. Re/18.05
    My goodness!.. and there was I thinking that we(collectively) could hardly be outdone in arrogance on this blog.
    Now I wonder..?

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  17. It seems the good father is not happy with his province!

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    1. Would some one care to fill in the picture!

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  18. What will their next step be? Well now.. what have they not tried yet?
    What about a curt letter to the Lord, Himself to outline to Him where He has been going wrong!--with at least 61 signatures? I'm sure He could benefit from the "advice" "of Very Clever People Who Know Everything.
    Ye gods.. What next!

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    1. Ha ha! LOL
      The world is full of pipsqueaks!

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  19. Ah well..
    Very interesting and sincere posters on today... I don't think we had any Pharisees but we certainly had the scribes out aplenty!

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