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Resistance and forgiveness

January 2011

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Resistance and forgiveness

Our guard was very young. (...) I was twenty-one, he was twenty-six. (...) While I could still talk, our similarity in age had encouraged me to ask him: "How did you end up here? And I wasn’t talking to him in a spirit of condemnation or revenge.

It was more out of despair and compassion. (...) The torturer does not know evil ; when he discovers it, he is taking a great step towards the truth. (...) I have always considered the torturer to be more unfortunate than the victim.

I know this is difficult to accept. But it is one reason why I have been appealing for nearly fifty years that we "pray for the torturer before praying for the victim ! " Of course we must pray for victims too : God knows they need our prayers !

But the torturer is the greater wretch. " When a human being is in great distress, I can see God rushing in so close that sometimes, in a fleeting moment, in a flash, that person can sense His presence just for a split second. (...And yet) the other can feel it so strongly!

The German officer I was speaking to heard my words. When I saw him again, forty years later, he was dying and wanted to see me to talk about it. " Why did you say that ? when you spoke of God, did you mean it that way ? " he asked me. The words I had spoken had stayed with him all that time. (...) Like oil, the words had seeped through to him.

Resistance and forgiveness,

Supplement to ’Vie Chrétienne’ (Christian Life)

"In June 1940, Maïté Girtanner started up a network of resistance. She was arrested in 1943 and tortured by a young Gestapo doctor who, by damaging her nervous system, caused her to live from then on in constant pain. "

- In my name

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