The Idea of Love

“At the heart of the concept of forgiveness is the idea of love – not abstract love but the real, concrete attachment of one being for another. Love distinguishes between the person and the deed. An act may be evil, but since the person is free, they are not inseparably joined to that evil. Wrongdoing damages the structures of our world. It creates an injustice. It damages a relationship. But these things are not beyond repair. Wrongs can be rectified, and harm healed. And when the wrongdoer expresses remorse, apologises and undertakes not to repeat the wrong, they are testifying to the fact that they are no longer identified with what they have done. Forgiveness is, and can only be, a relationship between free persons: between the forgiven, who has shown that they can change, and the forgiver who has faith that the other person will change. Freedom – the ability to act in unpredictable ways – is the refutation of tragedy.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 154