Are we called to forgive people who are not repentant?


#1

I asked this in the Ask Apologist forum, but in case they don’t answer (and since patience isn’t one of my best qualities!), I was wondering if anyone here knew the answer:

I was listening to Catholic Answers Radio and I believe it was Jimmy Akin who said that we are not expected to forgive those people who are not repentant. In fact, he said, that would be holding ourselves to a higher standard than God holds Himself - because neither does He forgive until a person is repentant. Is this true?

Moreover, what if we DO forgive people who are not repentant? Would that be better or simply useless? Would God look upon us with more mercy and forgiveness those times that we don’t manifest repentance if we forgive others who don’t manifest repentance?

Thank you for your time :slight_smile:


#2

Forgiveness isn’t for the other person. It is for us. Remember the parable of the servant who owed a huge debt to the king, was forgiven, and then went out and throttled a fellow servant who owed him a few bucks.
If we don’t forgive how can we expect God to forgive us? So be careful here. Once we forgive and let go we can get on with better things like loving the person who screwed us over, instead of plotting revenge on him/her.

Huggy Bear: "To err is human, to forgive, divine"
Hutch "What idiot said that?!"
Huggy Bear: “I believe that was God, the greatest mack of all!”:smiley:


#3

Once you cut through the psycho-babble that has surrounded forgiveness, it comes down to one thing:

A forgives B when A gives up the right to hurt B after B has first hurt A.

If A does not forgive B, A carries a tremendous, even crushing, burden. But having forgiven B, there is no call for A to pretend it never happened, or to enter into a conspiracy to deny the consequences of the hurtful act. A may, quite appropriately in some circumstances, never trust B again – and probably wouldn’t in the absence of repentance --, but the forgiveness is still genuine.

Blessings,

Gerry


#4

[quote=Alterum]I asked this in the Ask Apologist forum, but in case they don’t answer (and since patience isn’t one of my best qualities!), I was wondering if anyone here knew the answer:

I was listening to Catholic Answers Radio and I believe it was Jimmy Akin who said that we are not expected to forgive those people who are not repentant. In fact, he said, that would be holding ourselves to a higher standard than God holds Himself - because neither does He forgive until a person is repentant. Is this true?

Moreover, what if we DO forgive people who are not repentant? Would that be better or simply useless? Would God look upon us with more mercy and forgiveness those times that we don’t manifest repentance if we forgive others who don’t manifest repentance?

Thank you for your time :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Yes, seventy times seven I think is what Jesus said, as long as you forgive, at least God knows you’ve done your bit.
If the other person doesn’t forgive you, then that’s between them and God.


#5

[quote=Alterum]I asked this in the Ask Apologist forum, but in case they don’t answer (and since patience isn’t one of my best qualities!), I was wondering if anyone here knew the answer:

I was listening to Catholic Answers Radio and I believe it was Jimmy Akin who said that we are not expected to forgive those people who are not repentant. In fact, he said, that would be holding ourselves to a higher standard than God holds Himself - because neither does He forgive until a person is repentant. Is this true?

Moreover, what if we DO forgive people who are not repentant? Would that be better or simply useless? Would God look upon us with more mercy and forgiveness those times that we don’t manifest repentance if we forgive others who don’t manifest repentance?

Thank you for your time :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Since you asked about what Jimmy Akin said, why not let Jimmy tell you in his own words:

catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0309bt.asp


#6

Re god Forgiving the unrepentant - What about Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. I don’t think any of them repented.


#7

I don’t remember Jesus ever qualifying his “turn the other cheek command,” (meaning he did not say turn the other cheek only if the guy is penintent- what would the point in that be; where’s the thrill) nor do I remember him qualifying his directive that one should forgive something like 70 times 7 times…(again, meaning he did not say only forgive them so many tiems if they seem sincere). So yes, I would think that we are commanded to do are best to forgive all period; regardless of their state of mind. God realizes that we can only control our intentions, and will help us with the rest.


#8

What about … [list]*]Matthew 18:15-17 = "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.[/list] … Seems that Jesus is telling us that some form of repentances / corrective action needs to be taken by the person who wronged us before we accept them again with open arms.


#9

[quote=Joe Kelley]Re god Forgiving the unrepentant - What about Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. I don’t think any of them repented.
[/quote]

“for they know not what they do” indicates that they were not culpable for the wrong they had done, at least not fully. Jesus is thus invoking (and teaching) God’s justice. He doesn’t punish accidents, even if they are objectively sinful. (cf. Catechism for requisite conditions of mortal sin.)

Therefore, it’s a bit of a different issue.


#10

I don’t think forgving some one necesarily means you need to stick around them if their behavior jeopardizes your morals or increasese your proclivity to sin. I don’t think forgiveness and condonement at the same thing.


#11

[quote=Sir Knight]What about …
[list]
*]Matthew 18:15-17 = "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
[/list]… Seems that Jesus is telling us that some form of repentances / corrective action needs to be taken by the person who wronged us before we accept them again with open arms.
[/quote]

Sir Knight,
You raise a good issue. For my part I believe the bible is the original and greatest DIY book.IT is also a meat and potatoes book, not full of fanciful diction, but down to earth necessities.
In your quote above, I feel that these people are Christians. Forgiveness has been granted. Love is now in action, to save his brother. He is not taking this action to force repentance so he can forgive. He has already forgiven and is now acting in love and trying to save his brother from a bad situation. If the wrongdoer stays in the church (and in defiance to the wishes of the church) his actions may spread throughout the church and cause further dissention.
To the original post.
Forgiveness is absolutely necessary for our own salvation. True, He may not forgive us if we can’t be forgiving but forgiveness has a
more immediate need.
Look to yourself and notice what happens. If you forgive someone, you are over the issue and life moves on. If you don’t or can’t forgive someone then the issue stays open and your unforgiveness is fertile ground for an array of evil thoughts. Revenge, hate and a spreading circle of sin is generated in your mind and if left there it could spread to action. A small speck of unforgiveness can turn into a mountain of sinfull action. Dont give satan that first tiny foothold, unforgiveness. If you forgive, satan cant build on it. Be very carefull of holding onto unforgiveness. It grows because satan waters it.
If you can’t forgive someone, just keep praying until it comes. Notice how it grows. With all of your strength slow the growing process of evil why praying for the right attitude and the strength to forgive. He will provide you with the strength to forgive.
Walk in love
May Christ grow in your heart
edwinGhttp://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon7.gif


#12

[quote=serendipity]I don’t think forgving some one necesarily means you need to stick around them if their behavior jeopardizes your morals or increasese your proclivity to sin. I don’t think forgiveness and condonement at the same thing.
[/quote]

True, as the Bible says “Bad company ruins good morals”.


#13

What about September 11 attackers. We don’t know if they repented or not but zenit.org/english/war/visualizza.phtml?sid=24979

Pope Prays for Forgiveness of Perpetrators of Attacks

Journalist Puts Petition in Context

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II caused surprise when he prayed for God’s forgiveness for those who organized and carried out last year’s Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Speaking in Polish at the end of a commemorative service during today’s general audience, the Pope asked the faithful to pray “for the eternal rest of the victims, and that God will grant his mercy and pardon to the authors of this terrible terrorist attack.”

Domenico del Rio, Vatican correspondent of several Italian newspapers, commented over Vatican Radio about the Pope’s gesture, which caught some observers off guard.

“Twenty days ago, the Pope did something wonderful: He entrusted the world to the mercy of God” during his trip to Poland, del Rio said. “This gesture should have stirred much reflection and yet, it was somewhat unnoticed. God’s mercy is extended to all the world.”

“We do not have a God who uses a sword, as was thought in ancient times; our God tells us to love our enemies. And, what greater enemies than these can there be?” del Rio asked.

“We must also invoke God’s mercy on them, as we never know what might go through a person’s mind, even when he or she commits the most serious of crimes and horrors,” the journalist said.

“I think the Pope addresses everyone, trying to make them understand that in the end there is the mercy of God, even in face of the most horrific actions that men commit on earth,” the Vatican-affairs expert said. “If we analyze it carefully, I don’t think we should be scandalized.”


#14

Regarding the dead terrorists, there are a few considerations:

1.) At least some of them could have repented of the evil they did at some point before they died.

2.) Due to various factors, some of them may have been less culpable for the objectively grave sin they were committing.

3.) Assuming the best and praying for these souls is not wasted even if they all chose against God and are now separated from Him (in hell). God will apply our prayers to other souls who can benefit from our prayers.

If anyone hasn’t read the “Limits of Forgiveness” article in This Rock, linked earlier in the thread, I highly recommend it.


#15

Thanks everyone who responded :slight_smile:

DeFide, thanks for the link to the article. It answered all my questions!


#16

This afternoon I listened to the Catholic Answers Live archive program from November 19, 2003 (“As We Forgive Those…”). The guest was Sister Ann Shields, and she said:

“Forgiveness is not the opposite of justice.”


#17

:love: FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE ALL THOSE WHO SINNED AGAINST US,this is an extract from OUR FATHER

1.when we forgive our offender,we do so much for ourself like
a. we release ourself from anger,pain and all what not that hinders our peace with God and ourself
2 we are happy and at peace.see you next time


#18

A typical secular answer.

  How, or in what degree we forgive is not open to debate. We are to forgive unconditionally. It is an order, a command.

  An example of not forgiving unconditionally is forcing past offenders of crimes to "request" a pardon to clear their name.

Here the reflection is on the requester, not on the past offender.

  Andy

#19

NO

you can’t force people to be repentant.


#20

I think there’s a difference between forgiving and pretending nothing had happened, accepting the person back in our company and our trust and so on. We forgive someone if we abdicate our vengeance rights. But it’s reasonable for us to show only limited trust from then on in many cases. If it’s bad for us not to want to associate with the person anymore, I don’t know. If we lose the friendship for the person, we can’t really be expected to pretend it still exists.

If I forgive someone, I give up my right to vengeance and I bear no ill will or ill wishes for the person. But this is tricky because if I consider vengeance to be sinful, I don’t do it anyway. And same goes for ill will or ill wishes. So maybe this is not real forgiveness. Sometimes I consider the account even, sometimes I can’t make myself take that step. If someone regrets nothing and doesn’t ask forgiveness, sometimes I think “God will judge this” and move along, which is perhaps wrong. But is it really right to think “that’s OK” and move along instead? I can’t answer this question. If someone asks forgiveness and regrets, I consider the account even - but I am still somewhat offended if the person complains about my doing something lesser than the person was forgiven by me, so I don’t know if I really get over it or if I only try to and fall short. Sometimes, if someone bears no ill will but won’t see anything wrong in doing what he/she did, I think like, “Lord God, it’s up to you. I’m forgiving him/her and giving up on this one. Judging belongs to you, not to me”. I generally dare not judge and prefer to give up all claims. I have no delusions of myself being able to stand judgement. I had a dream about judging once. God sort of allowed me to judge everything on Earth. I crushed evil and injustice and I was successful in it, putting an end to all those things which go on around us and are so obviously not right. I stood for righteousness and righteousness prevailed. Myself I became sort of a hero and a living saint in the eyes of the people without seeking that. They probably believed I could heal them with touch and I’m not sure if I actually couldn’t. Fact is, I even got some special powers for the purpose of discerning and eliminating evil and injustice. However, in the end, when I was tired after the last battle and the last (earthly) judgement was made (there was also not much left on the earth after it), or so it seemed, something (it was a heavenly being) spoke directly in my hand. It was my time to pass judgement on my very self. I woke up at that point. But it has always been clear to me what the judgement would be. I recall blood on my hands, but I’m not sure if it really had been in the dream or if I made that up after waking up and thinking on it. After such dreams, playing judge loses all appeal… I’d rather forgive anything and everything till the end of my life in advance with no regret or apology or anything than pass a judgement on myself.


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