By interpreting a contemporary forgiveness story this article seeks to provide a fresh understanding of the classical penitential theology in "non-religious" terms (D Bonhoeffer). The "exegesis" of the story shows that forgiveness is a process of
truthful encounter with the burdens of the past and of mutual liberation both for
the perpetrator and for the victim in as much as it enables both sides to move
beyond the bondage of past guilt and traumatization. Restitution and compensation
are seen as an indispensable element in such a process, with the emphasis being not so much on "repairing" the past than on "preparing" a more just and harmonious way forward.
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