Riflessioni sul Perdono, sulla Dignità e sulla Riconciliazione

Loreta Castro

1. I negoziati di pace, generalmente, sono incentrati sulle dimensioni politica ed economica. Quale è la Sua percezione della necessità di toccare aspetti più profondi e genuini della riconciliazione e come si può ottenere questo?

Focusing only on political and economic dimensions during peace negotiations will not be able to address adequately conflicts that are complex and deeply rooted. A more holistic approach is needed, one that encompasses not only political and economic aspects but also socio-cultural and spiritual dimensions. How can this be achieved? Civil society has an important role to play. People (including peace advocates) have to articulate to parties in conflict that the people are also stakeholders in the peace process and that they would like a durable and sustainable peace to result from it. Very often the roots of conflict are multi-dimensional and therefore the actions that are needed to respond to and to address the roots of conflict should also be multi-dimensional.
In the Philippines, for example, the socio-cultural and spiritual dimensions are important because of the historical prejudices that have existed between Muslims and Christians, prejudices that have exacerbated the armed conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Hence, I believe that the peace process should include measures to educate and to provide interaction opportunities to both Muslim and Christian communities towards more respect and harmony. Furthermore, measures where spiritual and faith leaders can take an active role should also be included. The spiritual and faith leaders can remind us regarding the fundamental message of the different spiritual and faith traditions—for us to love one another and to seek peace.

2. Quali sono le condizioni nelle quali, al di là dell’assicurare gli interessi della parti in conflitto, può essere stabilito un processo incentrato su un senso di equità e dignità?

Conditions in which, beyond securing the interests of parties to conflict, a process that is centered on a sense of fairness and dignity can be established:
I think there are two very important conditions for the long term success of any peace process—one is about structures and the other is about relationships.
Structures have to be put in place, such as policies and independent bodies that will ensure that human dignity and fairness would be upheld. For example, there is a recent Philippine law that penalizes discrimination particularly against Muslims. Its enactment was strongly supported by local peace advocates. There is also a Commission on Human Rights, an independent body to which parties in conflict can lodge its complaints when human rights violations occur. The Commission has no prosecutory powers but it has become an important moral force because it speaks unequivocally and publicly for respect for human rights and International Humanitarian Law.
But proactive informal steps accompanying the formal peace process are also needed and we call these “people-to-people peace processes.” In the latter, many initiatives to transform relationships need to bloom, particularly those that bring together into meaningful face-to-face encounters and projects diverse people from communities who are known to have prejudicial attitudes towards each other. Negotiated agreements do not necessary bring an enduring peace. However, people whose relationships have changed for the better will nurture the peace because they will see that the path of peace is a far better road than violence.

3. Quanto il perdono è essenziale alla dimensione della riconciliazione? Alla radice della Sua cultura politica e/o della Sua fede religiosa quali sono i principi che implicano o escludono il perdono? Quali versi o detti che fanno parte del Suo personale patrimonio spirituale possono, nella sua opinione, avere un significato universale

a. Forgiveness is a highly essential dimension of reconciliation. We need not forget so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated, but forgiveness is crucial. Without forgiveness, people will be drawn to take revenge and to retaliate and this will only continue/ perpetuate the cycle of violence. Forgiveness frees us and puts a stop to the exchange of negative energies and actions. Negativity obstructs us from experiencing peace and the fullness of life.
b. My religious faith (Christianity) upholds the following principles. The verses or sayings which imply forgiveness in those principles are also indicated below:

  • Love of neighbor- “Love one another, by this love it will be known that they are His disciples.” (John 13:34)
  • Love of enemies- “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.” ( Matthew 5: 43-44)
  • Reconciliation rather retaliation- “Never repay injury with injury…Avenge not yourselves…Vengeance belongs to me; I will recompense says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he thirsts, give him to drink…Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)
  • Call to engage in peacemaking – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” ( Matthew 5:39-41)
  • Call to reject war – “I will break bow and sword and weapons of war and sweep them off the earth, so that all living creatures may lie down without fear.” (Hosea 2:20)


In today’s conflict-ridden world, the above principles imply that we should affirm the valid interests of the other party, engage the adversary in a dialogue, seek a mutual beneficial agreement with him/her, and not to return evil for evil.

4. Il perdono richiede qualche forma di pentimento da parte di coloro a cui il perdono viene offerto? Il perdono ha condizioni o è senza condizioni?

Repentance on the side of those to whom forgiveness is offered is desired but I would not consider it required. Hence, when forgiveness is offered, say by a victim, it is like a gift that should be given unconditionally. This is a difficult challenge to the victim, but it frees him/her from the burden of harboring hatred or a desire to retaliate in some way and can give a person inner peace. However, this does not mean that we do not wish the justice processes to happen because we all need to be responsible and accountable for our actions. Of particular use here is the restorative justice paradigm where the end goal is to heal broken relationships and restore a sense of well-being to all parties concerned.

Suggested structures and activities for a universal council on reconciliation. My Initial thoughts:

  • Re the composition of the Council—ideally it should include representation from the various world regions and from various sectors including faith-based peace organizations, government, civil society because of the importance of their working together towards the same goal. At the start, however, this global composition is not a must because the Council can grow towards the ideal as it progresses.
  • Activities can include:

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