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Scots Catholic

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Pope Francis says people who cannot forgive are not Christian

Posted on September 11, 2015 at 12:20 PM
 
It’s a pretty basic point: you can’t be Christian unless you are prepared to forgive.  It’s something that is abundantly clear in Christ’s teaching and we can be left in no doubt that we are all expected to forgive one another if we are to be true to Jesus.
 
 
Yet this call is seemingly never put into practice.  We are often prepared to talk the talk when it comes to forgiveness, but we are rarely prepared to walk the walk.  It is in this sense that the Pope’s words are timely.  As Christians we undoubtedly need to be reminded of Christ’s call to forgive all people, even when they have committed the worst crimes and atrocities against us.  This is, of course, very hard for us.  That is not in doubt.  But then Christian living is a challenge!  Living as a Christian goes against the grain of modern society and modern living.  It requires us to protect life from conception until natural death, it requires us to love all people without exception, and it requires us to forgive no matter what.
 
 
As the pope says: “If you can’t forgive, you are not a Christian.  You may be a good man, a good woman….but you are not doing what our Lord did. What’s more, if you can’t forgive, you cannot receive the peace of the Lord.  And every day when we pray the ‘Our Father’: forgive us as we have forgiven those….it is a condition.” 
 
 
The pope also urged priests to make sure they are merciful otherwise they shouldn’t be hearing Confession. He said: “If you are a priest and you can’t manage to be merciful, tell your bishop who will give you a job in administration, but please don’t go into the confessional box!  A priest who is not merciful does a lot of harm in the confessional box!”
 
 
He then encouraged more humility among Christians saying: “Which of us can say this, that the other person is more of a sinner than me?  None of us can say this!  Only our Lord knows this.”
Put bluntly, there should be nothing that is incapable of forgiveness, and there should be no person who is not entitled to receive our forgiveness.
 

Categories: Apologetics, Catholic, Christian, Christianity, Church, Confession, Forgiveness, God, Jesus, Life, Love, Mercy, Pope Francis, Reconciliation, Sacrament

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2 Comments

Reply A Common Sinner
7:19 PM on September 11, 2015 
As a victim of incestuous CSA, I have struggled most of my life with the issue of forgiveness. How could I genuinely forgive the man who fathered me for raping me when I was 3? How could I forgive him for the enormous impact it has had on every aspect of my life, leading me to prefer isolation from even my remaining family members? Bequeathing me an inability to trust anyone or tolerate company for extended periods (by 'extended' I mean >1 hour)? How could I forgive him for annihilating my chance to fall in love and marry because I simply cannot trust a man? How could I forgive him for robbing me of the chance to be a mother - a chance that, at 45 years old, I will never have now?

About 10 years ago, I managed to get in touch with him (he divorced my mother and remarried when I was about 4yrs old, thank goodness). I told him I wanted to see him, and we met the following week. It was the first time I ever had the chance to confront him, and I made it very clear to him that he had ruined my life. But something else happened that day that I did not expect. No, he didn't voluntarily march off to the Police Station and hand himself in; but as he sat there listening to me, grovelling and proclaiming how he had changed, and how he said the Rosary every day, I felt pity for him. I actually felt genuinely sorry for his pain - and a bit guilty that my harsh tone was the cause of it.

We haven't met or spoken since. I'm still not sure that his alleged daily recitation of the Rosary (he brought his beads with him to the meeting) is down to genuine repentance for his sins or forced contrition or just an act for my benefit. And I am still struggling to forgive him (as evidenced by words thus far). Yet I still recall the sight of him that day: a wee man, trembling, sweating, barely able to form a coherent sentence and sounding not terribly convincing when he did.

Whether he was genuinely contrite or not, I pity him. At over 70, he's nearer the end of his life than the start. Faced with his impending mortality, and being a Catholic, he will no doubt be sweating buckets about Judgement Day.

And the funny thing is, I don't want him to go to Hell. I don't particularly want to spend Eternity with him (assuming Saint Peter lets me through the pearly gates), but I can't abide the thought of being responsible - however incidentally - for a fellow human being tormented in Hell forever.

I might not be all the way there yet, but maybe I'm farther down the road to forgiving him than I thought. Merciful God, I hope so.
Reply Scots Catholic
1:43 PM on September 14, 2015 
A Common Sinner says...
As a victim of incestuous CSA, I have struggled most of my life with the issue of forgiveness. How could I genuinely forgive the man who fathered me for raping me when I was 3? How could I forgive him for the enormous impact it has had on every aspect of my life, leading me to prefer isolation from even my remaining family members? Bequeathing me an inability to trust anyone or tolerate company for extended periods (by 'extended' I mean >1 hour)? How could I forgive him for annihilating my chance to fall in love and marry because I simply cannot trust a man? How could I forgive him for robbing me of the chance to be a mother - a chance that, at 45 years old, I will never have now?

About 10 years ago, I managed to get in touch with him (he divorced my mother and remarried when I was about 4yrs old, thank goodness). I told him I wanted to see him, and we met the following week. It was the first time I ever had the chance to confront him, and I made it very clear to him that he had ruined my life. But something else happened that day that I did not expect. No, he didn't voluntarily march off to the Police Station and hand himself in; but as he sat there listening to me, grovelling and proclaiming how he had changed, and how he said the Rosary every day, I felt pity for him. I actually felt genuinely sorry for his pain - and a bit guilty that my harsh tone was the cause of it.

We haven't met or spoken since. I'm still not sure that his alleged daily recitation of the Rosary (he brought his beads with him to the meeting) is down to genuine repentance for his sins or forced contrition or just an act for my benefit. And I am still struggling to forgive him (as evidenced by words thus far). Yet I still recall the sight of him that day: a wee man, trembling, sweating, barely able to form a coherent sentence and sounding not terribly convincing when he did.

Whether he was genuinely contrite or not, I pity him. At over 70, he's nearer the end of his life than the start. Faced with his impending mortality, and being a Catholic, he will no doubt be sweating buckets about Judgement Day.

And the funny thing is, I don't want him to go to Hell. I don't particularly want to spend Eternity with him (assuming Saint Peter lets me through the pearly gates), but I can't abide the thought of being responsible - however incidentally - for a fellow human being tormented in Hell forever.

I might not be all the way there yet, but maybe I'm farther down the road to forgiving him than I thought. Merciful God, I hope so.

Hi there. Firstly, I would just like to say how sorry I am for what you had to go through. I can't even begin to imagine what you have experienced.
Secondly, can I express gratitude for your bravery and willingness in sharing your experience with us. I know it probably wasn't an easy decision.
Your incredible witness should serve as an example to many people.
Thank you and God bless.