‘Wonders’ of Forgiveness


I read with interest the article “Maria Goretti, Model of Courage” (CNY, July 20), Claudia McDonnell’s account of the life of the young saint and the author’s reflection on the meaning and value of that short life to us. 

Although Miss McDonnell rightly identifies her as the patron of young people, purity and forgiveness, I was disappointed by an account that essentially marveled at her courage and said little about the wonders of the forgiveness that this 11 year old extended to her 20 year old attacker. This ability to forgive seems to be so lacking and its absence so pivotal to the rancor and blame characteristic of our times. On forgiveness, I can think of two shining examples: Pope John Paul II meeting with his attacker, Mehmet Ali Acğa, in prison in 1983, and the congregants of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlestown, S.C., who unequivocally forgave Dylan Roof after he had shot and killed nine people at a prayer service in June 2015. 

I believe it’s fair to say that each caught all of our attention and made many of us struggle with the concept, as I do. But forgiveness can be so liberating and so sound. We are all sinners. We are all the potential victims of our own passions if the heat is turned up enough in our lives. To forgive another at the basic human level (independent of whether the perpetrator feels any remorse) seems to me at the very heart of the Christian message of Redemption. Perhaps Miss McDonnell or another columnist could take this on at another time.

Joe R. Struble



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