Fratelli tutti

Within our search for peace there is a need to look at the value and meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness can prove a very difficult thing to offer and/or receive. In n.236 Pope Francis says, “There are those who prefer not to talk of reconciliation, for they think that conflict, violence and breakdown are part of the normal functioning of a society. In any human group there are always going to be more or less subtle power struggles between different parties. Others think that promoting forgiveness means yielding ground and influence to others. For this reason, they feel it is better to keep things as they are, maintaining a balance of power between differing groups.” From there he looks at what we encounter in scripture in relation to forgiveness and conflict. He quotes Jesus saying to forgive ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18:22) and speaks of Jesus openly condemning the use of force to gain power over others; “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you” (Mt 20:25-26). We can see in n.239 that the early Christian communities did everything they could to maintain peace – “Reading other texts of the New Testament, we can see how the early Christian communities, living in a pagan world marked by widespread corruption and aberrations, sought to show unfailing patience, tolerance and understanding. Some texts are very clear in this regard: we are told to admonish our opponents ‘with gentleness’ (2 Tim 2:25) and encouraged ‘to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarelling, to be gentle, and to show courtesy to everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish” (Titus 3: 2-2). Next week we will see how Pope Francis looks at the the idea of ‘Legitimate conflict and forgiveness’ and ‘The best way to move on’.