The Pope should know that forgiveness cannot be asked, it must be offered


This column is the opinion of Albert Dumont, activist, spiritual advisor, volunteer and poet. For more information on CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

My life changed forever when the tremendous cruelty of a person from my distant past left me emotionally and spiritually wounded.

I have often spoken of the darkness that came into my life because of the effects this person’s actions had on my formative years. One day while we were talking about the topic of forgiveness, a friend asked me if it was possible for me to find it in my heart to forgive the person who brought such deep dysfunction, through his cruelty, into my life. My response was, “No, I can’t forgive that person.”

Why? It’s simply because the person I’m talking about (now deceased) never came to my door to ask for my forgiveness.

A circle would form

If the guilty person had come to my home and said words of regret and remorse for their cruelty long ago, I would have invited the person into the warmth of my humble abode where a circle would have formed. The sacred objects of our spiritual beliefs (theirs and mine) would be placed in the center of the circle and a conversation would then take place.

I, as someone who suffered at the hands of the culprit, would expect to hear – in detail – why the person did what they did to alter my human right to emotional and spiritual well-being so severely.

If I felt, because of the words spoken in the circle, that the person’s grief was real and really corresponded to what I define as a real “act of contrition”, I have no doubt that I would forgive the person whose cruelty contributed to my life spiraling out of control in my youth.

To be clear, if the person whose cruelty has caused so much emotional turmoil in my life had never asked me for forgiveness (he didn’t), then no forgiveness from me would ever have stood a chance. to occur. I would be at peace with leaving it in the domain of the Creator, where I am confident justice would occur.

No one escapes justice! Neither I, nor you, nor the Pope, nor any other human being will get away with doing evil, and no place of worship (including the Catholic Church) guilty of crimes against humanity will escape justice after the historical examination of the Creator.

They went to his house

The Indigenous peoples of Canada who suffered so much in residential schools did not wait for the pope to knock on their door. Instead, they went to his house, asking to be given an apology for past wrongs.

To me, that’s a very strange way to go about it.

If the pope is interested in forgiveness, then it should have been incumbent on him to ask for a time when he could, with his shoulders down, have the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. The pope should always keep in mind that dead boarding school children have a say!

Will there be a healing circle where the pope and indigenous peoples can heal together? What will the church do to make amends?

Two of my published poems relate to this very subject. I offer them now and hope you will connect spiritually and emotionally with them.

Because of you
The words of the victim
by Albert Dumont©

You pushed me into raging waters
And I wonder
If ever my mind will heal

Because of you
I forgot the reasons
For the flowers
And the purpose of the rain

Because of you
Instead of smiling at dawn
I hide
And shed tear after tear

Because of you
I feel like rust
that descends on beauty
Of our autumn maple leaves

Because of you
peace eludes me
And all I see is heartache
Everywhere I turn

It’s good now that you tell me
you are sorry
But tell me too
What you will do who will do
Restore who and what I was
In front of your cruelty
Pushed me into raging waters

Because of me
The words of the abuser
by Albert Dumont ©

I pushed you into raging waters
And now I wonder
If you’ll ever be the same

Because of me
You forgot the reasons
For the flowers
And the purpose of the rain

Because of me
Instead of smiling at dawn
You hide
And shed tear after tear

Because of me
You feel like rust
that descends on beauty
Autumn maple leaves

Because of me
peace eludes you
And you only know the heartache
Everywhere you turn

I regret having caused you
Such great suffering
And I’m sorry
What would you like me to do
It would help you
Restore who and what you were
In front of my cruelty
I pushed you into raging waters

Support is available to anyone affected by their residential school experience or recent reports. A National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419.


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