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Spiritual Life: Public figures can repent

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 November 2017

Archant

The stream of revelations from the past about public figures has included some horrific cases, including serious abuse, rape and assaults that even then would have been shocking if public.

At a different level, it has also served to remind anyone who worked in an office or a factory in the 1970s or 1980s of the kind of misogynistic and often racist behaviour that we largely tolerated at the time.

Happily, things have changed since then in many ways. Most of us are becoming more respectful of people who are different to us, and most men are improving in their attitudes towards women compared to the 70s. There has been a cultural shift, and a good one at that.

Nevertheless, there are things that were said and done that cannot be undone. Where does that leave you if you look back on things that you said and did in the past with shame and regret?

I believe fundamentally that repentance can be followed by forgiveness and a chance to live in a new way. ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’, as Jesus said to the crowd who wanted to condemn a woman who had committed adultery. He knew that even the best of people have made mistakes in their lives that they regret.

Repentance means turning away from the past and committing ourselves to a better future.

Every saint has a past and, most importantly, every sinner can have a future – if they want it.

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