Forgiveness, Mercy, and Clemency


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This volume examines the registers of individual psychology, religious belief, social practice, and political power circulating in and around those who forgive, grant mercy, or pose clemency power. The authors suggest that, in many ways, necessary examinations of the questions of forgiveness and pardon and the connection between mercy and justice are only just beginning. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Stanford University Press, Condition: New.

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Established seller since Seller Inventory IQ Delivered from our UK warehouse in 4 to 14 business days. What does it imply? Initially, it implies that, if justice were virtue to be considered, God could not have created a world in which free and rational beings existed, with their own autonomy. Justice would require punishment with no clemency.

But mercy and forgiveness imply that God can permit evil to take place without immediately withdrawing the sinner from existence. Why would He do this? So that the free being could repent and, once repentant, forgiven.

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He could then return to the fold with great rejoicing. What does this mean? It means that, beyond justice, which still prevails, there is room for a free response to the love in which the free being is initially created. To be sure, no assurance is implied that the free being will acknowledge his sins. That is why justice remains. But the fact that sins can be repented—this after all was the principal purpose of the Incarnation—means that God can, without contradicting Himself, create a good world in which evil is possible, but not definitive. It is thus a world in which freedom and drama and risk, even for God, is really possible.

What is not possible, however, is that God saves a free creature by denying him his freedom. A world of automatic salvation would not be worth creating or worthy of God. This again is why redemption is also a drama, why each human life, at bottom, is the story of his response to an offer of mercy in a world of justice. This offer is not some abstract thing, but something spelled out in the life of Christ who preached a doctrine of justice, but also of mercy and forgiveness.

So the elderly Argentine woman was quite right. The world itself, as we know it, could not exist unless it was formed in mercy, just as Aquinas said. One final point needs to be emphasized. Pope Benedict pondered these things also. With Plato, he understood that the world must, at a minimum, be created in justice. The books of the Old and New Testaments concur in this view. But there is still a problem. It is not just the soul that commits sins; it is the whole person, body and soul. In this sense, the world would not be really just unless, in addition to an immortal soul, each person is judged in his wholeness.

Essentially, as Benedict says, this reasoning is at least one basic reason why we also have the resurrection of the body, why the doctrines of Purgatory and Hell, as well as death and Heaven, make logical sense. Thus we have reconciled justice and mercy, truth and forgiveness, freedom and punishment, reason and revelation.

The world does exist and forgiveness does exist in it. This is the truth of creation from before the foundations of the world when we each of us were first known in the divine being. The world is created in mercy, not justice—but not without justice. If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity! Click here for more information on donating to CWR.


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Click here to sign up for our newsletter. Sign up to receive a weekly email with news, analysis, and commentary from a voice you can trust! News Briefs. About James V. Schall, S. James V. He was the author of numerous books and countless essays on philosophy, theology, education, morality, and other topics. He died at the age of 91 on April 17, Visit his site, "Another Sort of Learning" , for more about his writings and work.

Previous Card. Next Report: Francis calls ailing traditionalist writer; says criticism is important to him. Email Frequency Daily. Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. As Rapaport puts it, when our political leaders argue for the inexorable application of retributive justice, they typically offer a vision of a bifurcated community, divided by a great moral chasm into depraved, hopeless transgressors and law-abiding, worthwhile citizens.

Since that time, Moore has apparently led a productive life, becoming a minister and also a friend of the family of the man he murdered many years ago. Of course, the difficulty with predicating a case for merciful clemency on these expressive benefits is that there is nothing inevitable about the meaning we take from such acts. People can and will disagree with the assertions that mercy demonstrates strength tempered by humility and that it fosters social cohesion.

We should not conclude, however, that we must despair of making the case for mercy or abandon our efforts to advocate its use. Rather, we can continue to seek to demonstrate its benefits to society. Advocates of mercy should also forcefully and openly defend the benign account of mercy as more accurately reflecting human experience and our aspirations as a society. Unfortunately, that is not how acts of clemency have always been discussed by our leaders.

Governor Celeste candidly confessed to similar shortcomings when he granted numerous pardons and death penalty commutations in Ohio at the end of his final term in office: Unlike my decision on the battered women, these death penalty commutations stirred up a firestorm of protest. Part of this had to do with the widespread support for the death penalty. But part of it had to do with the nature and timing of my decision.

Follow God’s example by offering clemency to those who do us wrong

In mercy in clemency decisions 55 this instance, I did not have a well-developed process nor did I have a strong constituency for the issue. Rather, coming in the final hours of my second term and without the engagement of the Corrections Department or the Adult Parole Authority, this action seemed hasty and ill considered.

This allows critics to claim the rhetorical field, characterizing merciful acts as weakness, arrogance, or worse. Officials who use clemency in a merciful way should clearly explain the reasons for their actions and unapologetically defend the value of mercy to the community. This would require executives to abandon the common practice of waiting until the end of their term in office to consider most clemency requests and instead to grant clemency with regularity, as part of a considered, deliberative process.

As examples of the unyielding harshness of our justice system come to light, there seems to be some softening in the cries for justice at any cost. Moreover, despite the dearth of mercy in our public institutions, we continue to espouse mercy as an important American value in literature, in religion, and in our descriptions of ourselves as a people, suggesting that we are not so committed to unmitigated justice as our leaders seem to believe. John Ames, the narrator, is a minister looking back on his life as death nears.

In reviewing one of his old sermons connecting the parable of the Prodigal Son with the Old Testament practice of forgiving slavery and all debts in certain years, Ames describes the transforming nature of forgiveness that lies at the core of mercy: I believe [the sermon] concludes quite effectively. It says Jesus puts His hearer in the role of the father, of the one who forgives. Because if we are, so to speak, the debtor and of course we are that, too , that suggests no graciousness in us.

And grace is the great gift.

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Forgiveness, Mercy, and Clemency

The other half is that we also can forgive, restore, and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us, which is the great restoration of ourselves to ourselves. Louis: N.

A Merciful and Forgiving Attitude by Joyce Meyer

Thompson Publishing, , Anthony M. He will not always chide; nor will he keep his anger forever.

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He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Commissioner v.


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