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“What is forgiveness in a secular political form?”

Shriver Jr., Donald W.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) In Forgiveness and reconciliation: Religion, public policy, & conflict transformation, ed. Raymond G. Helmick, S.J., and Rodney L. Petersen, 151-157. With a foreword by Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.

In asking about the nature of forgiveness in a secular political form, Shriver begins with a set of more fundamental questions about the nature of forgiveness itself. These questions deal with the place of religion in forgiveness, the question of whether forgiveness is basically an interior personal act, the issue of history in relation to forgiveness, and the unique value of forgiveness. From these questions, Shriver proposes a definition of forgiveness involving four elements, a definition applicable in his view to the secular political realm. The four elements are these: moral judgment; forbearance from revenge; empathy for wrongdoers; and a hope for renewal of the fractured relationship.


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