Should we always apologize when we have done wrong?

I wrote hurtful emails to someone who hurt me very badly. I should not have done this… in fact, I should have taken the advice of Mrs Angelala.

I wrote this person some follow up emails trying to apologize, but he did not respond. What should I do now? I could knock on his door and apologize — I already know that he prefers apologies in person.

My question is: Should we always apologize when we have done something wrong? Is this said anywhere in the Catechism, or the Bible? Is apologizing to others an important action in Christianity?

I am guessing that it is: it brings to mind the Bible verses where Jesus says, “If you know that your brother has something against you, then leave your gift at the altar, and be reconciled with him first. Then offer your gifts at the altar.” (I paraphrase.)

You already apologized. That seems like enough.

I believe that sometimes apologizing will only make matters worse. One has to weigh whether it will help or hurt and act accordingly.

It’s never wrong to apologize for hurting someone. Does it really need to be in the catechism for you to know this? It goes along with loving our neighbour.
Saying you’re sorry in an email seems like the coward’s way out. Maybe a phone call would help. But your apology doesn’t obligate your friend to accept it. If he doesn’t respond, let it go. But you could pray for healing of the relationship.

Well, to be fair, he hurt me very badly, and he never offered a heartfelt apology, or even an acknowledgment of the hurt.

In fact, I feel like he emotionally abused me. It’s what brought me to church in the first place.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. I believe we should always apologize when we have done wrong to someone. Even if they don’t acknowledge their part in the situation. I also believe we should forgive them for the wrong they did to us whether they ask for forgiveness or not. We forgive them for ourselves, not for them. They probably couldn’t care less if we forgive them or not. We are not to hold on to anger. It darkens our soul and pushes us away from God. You apologized. Forgive this person and move on.

I apologized over email. But should I do it in person?

I’d say to be satisfied you apologized. Continuing to hash and rehash the past, especially with an abusive person, generally isn’t helpful.

It’s “water under the bridge, now”. Let it go, pray for him, and learn from it for the next time. Forgive him and yourself, and move forward.

Thanks for your helpful words.

If possible. I’d try calling first to see if you he’ll respond. You can get a feel from the phone call. If you get the feeling that meeting in person will escalate the situation I’d just apologize and wish him well.

I think an apology over the phone is better than an email or text. I would consider those impersonal. I’d want to hear the voice to determine if the apology was sincere.

I see. Good to know your opinion.

Hi oak47,

I’ve had experiences where I tried to keep apologizing as it were, to someone who was still angry, and it didn’t go over well due to their still being angry.

So, depending on the circumstances, sometimes it may be worth a try reaching out again by phone or in person, or sometimes it may just be best to let things go, and to give the other person some space.

Only you know that person, and how they might respond to you. :slight_smile:

Do you think it is possible that you want a face to face discussion, or maybe even hope that you will get an apology for the hurt he caused you? If so, give that some deep examination. Consider discussing this with your priest to get his input.

You have apologized. There are times when a long distance apology is better, when a face to face might turn into something else you did not intend.

Above all, forgive this person, and pray for them. Then you can move on.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I appreciate that.

Thanks for your good advice!

Is this a former romantic partner? Sometimes I think when people are really into the idea of “getting closure” by having just one more face to face conversation, they’re really subconsciously hoping the relationship reignites.

I wonder if that could be the reason you’re not satisfied with having apologized over email and want to do it in person? Just food for thought, I could be way off.

Thank him for getting you back to church! That would be enough.

My boss said it’s a sign of weakness to apologize. It is as if the individual is making excuses. I don’t know where she got that.

Yes, you should always apologize when you realize you have made an offense or were in error. And I do see this as in line with reconciling with your brother before God. Keep your slate clean. To me this is just correcting the record. You will account to God for your actions, not just your neighbor. This is not the same thing as advocating agreement or peace at all costs - right? I think you can adhere to a correct position and be in a conflict with someone. The point is when you realize you are wrong, spare no effort to fix the record. And whenever I think I have offended someone in a personal way, I apologize. I see no reason to ever do that intentionally. But then move on. Don’t be too proud to apologize; and don’t take pride in how humbly you fixed it or grovel in how awful you were. Let it go - put all that remorse energy into not doing it again. Learn from it.

To me, it’s a sign of humility to admit when we’re wrong.

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