Stacy, some practical thoughts.  If you reflect on this question with 
any degree of honesty, you already know that there are some things we 
simply do not ever "forgive", notwithstanding the doctrines of the 
Church and the principles of repentence.

It seems to me that societies and cultures deem certain acts or types of 
behavior to be so threatening or offensive that those offenders can 
never really effectively "pay their debt to society".  In other times 
and places there were different categories of specific offenses that 
were unforgivable.  Today we have our own set.  The people we now 
categorize as "sex offenders" receive the most severe and lasting 
stigma. I think it would be a mistake for you to engage with such an 
individual, not necessarily because of any of his wrongdoing or 
propensities for evil, but rather, because he will likely ever be 
burdened with the social stigma, and if you associate with him, you will 
have to willingly share that burden.

This is from the personal perspective of one who carries such a stigma.  
Since I became legally divorced I have been classified a "deadbeat dad", 
a despicable criminal in the eyes of the state, and I have learned that 
while many people claim to be compassionate and forgiving, much of the 
time they don't really mean it in any substantive sense.  As soon as 
they learn about my criminal status, they are automatically filled with 
righteous hatred.  There is an implicit understanding that bad people 
deserve nothing but contempt.  In fact someone said as much to me at one 
time, right here on this list.

I can testify, it would take a very special relationship to get me to 
believe that people will ever trust me again.  I suggest that the very 
fact that you express doubt about the efficacy of atonement and 
repentance are indications that this isn't a relationship for you to 

Thoughts along the same line--there is an interesting public debate 
currently heating up on this criminal history issue.  Some civil rights 
advocates now complain that public access to criminal history data 
violates the constitutional prohibition of "cruel and unusual 
punishment", since it effectively becomes a life sentence for 
individuals whose names are listed.

This becomes complicated and confused with other cultural values, since 
many are so vehemently opposed to the death penalty.

It is a complicated world we live in.

Mij Ebaboc 

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