Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett says let leaders to admit their mistakes and move on


- Credit: Archant

The Pope is a sinner.

Yes, you read that right: The Pope is a sinner. He said so himself. When asked once who he was, he said “I am a sinner. That is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

Lest you think that I am claiming any moral superiority over the Supreme Pontiff, I should say here and now that I, too, am a sinner. I have failed far too many times in my life to be able to claim to be better than anyone reading these words. That’s not the false humility of a Uriah Heap speaking. It’s the truth. It’s at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

As that great letter-writer, Paul of Tarsus, wrote: “This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.”

So it is that one of the oldest and greatest prayers used by Christians over the centuries goes ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

That’s not the end of the story, though. Christians believe in second chances. And second chances change us.

Those who claim to follow Jesus Christ and who really understand what it is to be forgiven, through the Grace of God, become people who can act with forgiveness and understanding towards others who fail.

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If we admit that we often get things wrong, we should surely be generous to others when they get things wrong - whether they’re our friends and neighbours or our politicians and leaders.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we could approach the coming election in that way?

Wouldn’t it be good if politicians could confess to having made mistakes without being pilloried, or change their mind without being accused of doing a U-turn?

Here’s a suggestion; Let’s allow our leaders to own up to their failures, to apologise and move on.

After all, as Einstein said, the person who never made a mistake never did anything new. More from Elwin

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