Forgiveness for sex abuse can only come from the victim

Blogger Bill Tammeus looks at the clergy sex abuse scandals in light of the recent US public TV series on forgiveness and its associated book Forgiveness: A Time to Love, a Time to Hate.

Tammeus is a retired reporter and editorial page columnist for The Kansas City Star. He now blogs in several places, including the National Catholic Reporter, where he provides a Protestant perspective on Catholic events.

"At one time I might have said, simply (and simplistically), that I think it's everyone's obligation to forgive and move on. I'd have said that out of my Reformed Tradition (Presbyterian) theology, and no doubt I could have said sincere words to justify it theologically.

"But I'm pretty sure now that's the wrong answer. In fact, I'm increasingly convinced that forgiveness is so complicated that it can be downright dangerous."

He suggests that no-one but the victim has a right to offer forgiveness to the criminal.

"I cannot, for instance, be the one to offer forgiveness to the thief who broke into my neighbour's house. I also now see that forgiveness can't be received if the perpetrator has not done the required preparatory work."

Forgiveness, he says, can and should be liberating. "But not if we do it on the cheap. In the end, there's no iPhone app for it."

FULL BLOG: Forgiveness for sex abuse doesn't come cheap (National Catholic Reporter)

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