Śląskie Studia Historyczno- Teologiczne, Vol. 42, z. 2 (2009), s. 59-69
In the last decades, a topic of forgiveness has gained great importance on a social level.
The work of Truth and Reconciliation Committee and apologies offered by political and
religious leaders are representative signs of “collective forgiveness”. In this paper, I show
first the object and essence of forgiveness using Hildebrand’s distinction between disvalue
and objective evil for a person. I explain from the perspective of a harmful relationship
between two individuals what forgiveness is not. Then I show conditions which should be
fulfilled to forgive and to receive forgiveness. An analysis of individual forgiveness gives
us a proper tool to understand the collective one. I argue that in a strict sense we can not
talk about collective forgiveness. It is better to speak about the process of social, religious
or political reconciliation. This process leads to “purification of memory” and builds up
new relationships between two feuding groups. A healed past gives hope for a good future.