The Church of England has been grappling with the issue of forgiveness in a recent document called ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of Abuse’. The issue of abuse by priests and church organisations is a live one in many denominations. Reports into events from the distant, and not so distant, past have revealed shocking behaviour which seems to bear no relationship to the faith which Christians hold.
This report is trying to address the issue of forgiveness when considering churches which have shared in abuse in some way, those who have abused and those who have been abused. These are very tricky questions to answer. As the chair of the Faith and Order Commission, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, states even though forgiveness is “at the heart of the good news of Jesus Christ” it shouldn’t be used to collude and cover up abuse in the Church and “forgiveness needs to be seen in relation to justice, healing, and repentance”. As you can imagine, in considering the theology which relates to this issue, our Gospel passage for the day is considered.
Forgiveness is a very difficult practice of the Christian life. Our first response, on a human level, is to retaliate if we are hurt by someone else. We might think of it as sticking up for ourselves, not being a doormat that everyone can just walk all over. Forgiving can often seem to be too soft a response to those who have wronged us. Continue reading