A reflection on forgiveness with Giorgia’s wisdom
“The” forgiveness, or “I” forgiveness? In the first case it is an abstract concept, in the second a concrete act that I bring into being, and here I deal with the latter possibility that calls me into being with my entire existence and my reflection on it.
What does it mean that I forgive? Moreover, who do I forgive? Others or myself? Despite the apparent, enormous difference between these two situations, the “movement” is actually the same and it is a matter of seeing how I am involved.
A clarification right away is called for, so as to avoid misunderstandings, which is forgiving is not forgetting, but remembering with a different emotional and affective tone. I remember, but in me the resonance changes. Time is at stake, for if I forget, the past disappears and so what can I forgive? I remain alone in ‘my today’ with no connection to what has happened.
Time is, therefore, a crucial dimension when we speak of forgiveness, which unfolds in the inextricable intertwining of what has been and what I, who want to forgive, am now. If I forgive, the past remains, but resentment and hatred disappear. If I forgive, in my present I take on the past that I remember and that enters into what I am today and what I could never have been without what I now forgive.
Repentance is inseparable from forgiveness when it comes to forgiving oneself. Here, once again, the link between past and present returns because I remember very well what I repent of, but now I am different and I take on my past in an existence transformed precisely by the repentance and forgiveness that I grant myself.
Paradoxically, by forgiving, the irreversibility of time comes into crisis because the past, which I now forgive, has brought me to be what I am, but now from the present I return to the past and insert it into a present that transforms it, even if it cannot erase it.
In addition to the centrality of time, when I forgive, the role of the way of seeing must also be emphasized, for I who forgive look at what has been with different eyes, not tarnished by the screen of rancor or resentment. Forgiving bestows a new freedom that is the fruit not of what has been, but of what I want to be now.
By forgiving, I assume the past in the present; I will never forget it and I will not be able to forget the suffering I have experienced, but today I am free to live and, therefore, to forgive.
by GIORGIA SALATIELLO
In sadness, we publish here Giorgia Salatiello’s last article, written shortly before her death on November 3, in Rome. A lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical Gregorian University, an authoritative voice in the debate on the relationship between man and woman in the Church, Giorgia was on the editorial board of Women Church World, which she enthused with her wisdom and humanity. She will be greatly missed, by all of us and by everyone who knew her.