Need scriptural and/or Catechism "back up" for keeping relative OUT of our lives


In short, a family member is in jail for sexual acts against their own child. This individual recently wrote us a letter telling us that they have found Jesus and want forgiveness from everyone.

While I am happy for them and continue to pray…I would like to write back that although I am still praying for them…we do not want them to be a part of our everyday lives as such.

Their letter was written with much biblical reference to forgiveness. I am hoping to write a thoughtful and kind letter back but feel I need to mention church teachings and/or scripture and not just write “we don’t feel like having contact” since I am hoping it will have more of an impact and give them cause for further reflection and religious study.

If anyone has any idea where I could find something like this please respond, I am lost at this point. Thank you.


I’m at a loss there, Scripture says that if someone asks for forgivness we must give it. That part is reuqired. Forgivness does not mean inviting them to dinner next week - but, the way to phrase that - I’d suggest trying to contact Fr. Benedict Groeschel for advice…

If it were me, I would write back that in accordance with Scripture, we do forgive. That I was praying for them and the children, I’d send a copy of “Interior Castles” and a rosary.

Prayers for healing of the entire family.


To add to this, I think that forgiveness includes charity. This means that you find it in yourself to find ways to be charitable. Maybe it is that upon release you make it clear that unsupervised contact will result in permanent banishment and that any contact has to be approved in advance. But if you continue to banish from your life totally, I’m not sure you have really forgiven.


I think it is possible to really forgive, and at the same time forbid all contact between this relative and your own children. Forgiveness is not the same thing as trust, nor are you obligated to take chances with your own safety or the safety of your family in order to prove you’ve forgiven them.


wow. I can’t believe anyone would expect you to allow this person anywhere near your family.

Forgiveness is not dependent on being willing to endanger your family. I can forgive an alcoholic, but I don’t invite them over for beers and bratwurst. In fact, I would think it very uncharitable to provoke a known weakness. Not only would it hurt the aggressor, it hurts those affected by those actions.

I don’t feel you need to validate your stance to protect your children. Honestly, I don’t know that I would do more than send a card forgiving them and saying this would be the last contact outside of prayer they would receive from me. But if you feel you must…

Catechism and bible - look in the index under “parenting” and you should get some insight there. Almost all references in the catechism about the duties of parents contain admonishment to raise them in virtues, to give good examples to them, to create a “wholesome family life”.

#2224 seems appropriate …
The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.


While it might seem a stretch at first, what about James 2, and “faith and works”. Let this person show you (not just tell you) that he has changed his life. Remember Jesus and the fig tree–a good tree gives good fruit, a bad tree bad fruit. You can’t really tell if your relative will bear good or bad fruit right now. And to depend simply on the spoken word, however contrite it might **sound, ** without any other signs, would not be fair to your children or even to your relative. “Lead us not into temptation” comes to mind as well.


I beg to differ, banishment is the only way to totally insure the child’s safety, for even if you forgive, trust must never return. If it is betrayed, the child has to much to lost. That trust isn’t yours to give.

Keeping what happened in mind is how you make sure it never happens again.


Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Here is an article written by Jimmy Akin and he gives references you might use. Consider explaining to your relative that he/she can have all the forgiveness he/she wants (if you’re willing to give it), but reconciliation is a different matter altogether.



I’m praying for you because of the enormous difficulty of this situation and I completely understand your desire to stay apart from this person. I especially pray for the child(ren) involved.

Why not be honest with this person? Just say “I’m working on forgiving you, but it is difficult because what you did to your child was so terrible that I no longer trust you. God be with you as you seek to change your life.” Or something to that effect (as upbeat as you can muster). By keeping your message brief, you will convey the fact that you do not want to be a part of their life. I don’t think you need to get into the fruits of his conversion, or a theological debate about the fundamental meaning of forgiveness (however I do think that what, Abby, Tantum, and Rob’s Wife has said is invaluable advice that should strengthen you in your resolve) or even discuss your relationship in any form with this person. Just take what he said at face value, send a short reply, and be done with it. Should this person have a genuine conversion, then you will see changes over the years. If it this conversion is simply a ploy to gain sympathy, then you have not allowed yourself to be manipulated. If you don’t want further contact, then if another letter appears, don’t write him back. Don’t even write back to tell him not to write. He’ll get the message. If he’s in jail, how can he be a part of your everyday life anyway? Will he be released in the near future? Has he corresponded with any other members of the family or does he see you, as a devout Catholic, as someone who might reach out to him when he is released from jail? Is there a chaplin at the prison that you might be able to talk to with out this man hearing about it? Or what about other relatives?

Sadly, most criminals never experience a real change and and the best place for them is behind bars so that they can not hurt anyone else. Remember, as a sexual predator, he will be very good at mind games and lies, and this could be one that he’s laying on you, so be very careful. Lastly, trust your instincts, they will serve you well.


I cannot possibly thank all of you enough for your thoughtful and informative replies.

I really was at a loss and I have been given more resources than I hoped for!

For the record: It was never even a consideration to have this individual around my own children…sorry I did not make that clear. The question was on how close a relationship that my husband and I wanted to have with them at this time.

With your information and the help of the Holy Spirit, we hope to write a thoughtful letter to help in this persons healing and to help with the healing of the entire family.

God Bless


But, how does a person with this tendency (pedophilia) “show” that he has changed? You can’t put him with children and wait and see and hope for the best.

I say, you love him, you forgive him, you pray for him from afar. If you want to meet with him alone, without your kids, then that would be the way to have contact. It’s not that you’re not forgiving, just that your first responsibility is to your children.

And I agree that putting him with children might be tempting him. The catechism must have something to say about that. Why give someone a “near occasion of sin”?

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