It’s hard to know how I would respond if a member of my family were murdered. I say “respond” because I’m sure that my initial “reaction” would be one of shock and disbelief that this had happened, followed by grief and anger and “if only…”
Last week the family of a murder victim were upset and angry. The person who killed their daughter had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. Suffering from mental illness, he was committed to a secure hospital for a sentence of more than twenty years. They didn’t think that this was punishment enough, that justice had been done.
At least one person on the panel of Radio 4’s The Moral Maze discussing this dilemma, was of the same opinion. For him – a professing Christian – punishment and justice came before any mitigating circumstances.
But will my pain be relieved by the punishment of another – my loss restored? It’s not easy to follow Jesus’ teaching to move from “an eye for an eye” to compassion and forgiveness.
Back in 2019 we performed A Mass for Peace and Reconciliation. Alongside it we had an exhibition from the Forgiveness Project. Each day this past week on Radio 4, Marina Cantacuzino, founder of the Forgiveness Project, has been introducing Forgiveness Stories from the Front Line. They are worth catching up with on BBC Sounds.