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Unforgiveness, forgiveness, and reconciliation and their implications for societal interventions

Worthington, Everett L
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) In Forgiveness and reconciliation: Religion, public policy, & conflict transformation, ed. Raymond G. Helmick, S.J., and Rodney L. Petersen, 161-182. With a foreword by Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.

A psychologist involved in research on forgiveness and reconciliation, especially between couples, Worthington looks at the interrelationship between forgiveness and reconciliation in international or societal relations. He begins this exploration with definitions of unforgiveness, forgiveness, conflict resolution, and reconciliation. These definitions lead to an examination of ways – at both societal and intrapersonal levels – to reduce unforgiveness that do not involve forgiveness. While he makes a clear distinction between unforgiveness and forgiveness, Worthington nevertheless maintains that some degree of forgiveness usually occurs as unforgiveness is reduced. With all of this in mind, he then focuses on relevant research on forgiveness and reconciliation, and on guidelines to promote forgiveness and reconciliation in societies. He asserts that social policymakers must aim for interventions to promote forgiveness and reconciliation at the societal level; hence, he discusses suitable objectives for such interventions.


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