Archive for January, 2018

Dr. Robert Enright Named “Pioneer and Founder of Forgiveness Science”

Editor’s Note: That designation was issued by CRUX Media last week as part of an intense and revealing interview with Dr. Enright that was conducted while he was in Rome for the Rome Forgiveness Conference at the University of Santa Croce. 

Among the interview questions addressed by Dr. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, were these: What does the science of forgiveness tell us? What are the consequences of forgiving?  In such battle-scarred parts of the world as Northern Ireland, does your science work? Do you find religious people are more inclined to forgive?


ROME – Scientific study of the world has been around for a while now, so it’s rare these days to meet the founder of an entirely new branch of science. That, however, is what you’ve got in full living color in the person of Robert Enright, a Catholic who teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and who pioneered what’s today known as “forgiveness science.”

Enright has spent the last thirty-plus years developing hard, empirical answers, including a four-phase, twenty-step process to lead patients to forgive. He insists data prove it has positive effects, including tangible reductions in anxiety, anger and psychological depression, and gains in self-esteem and optimism about the future.

Enright is in Rome this week, to speak at a Jan. 18 conference on forgiveness at the University of the Holy Cross, the Opus Dei-sponsored university here. He’s applied his tools in some of the world’s least forgiving places, including Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine, and Liberia.  .  .  .

Read the rest of Dr. Enright’s interview with John L. Allen Jr., Editor of CRUX Media, an international, independent Catholic media outlet operated in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization.

John L. Allen Jr. has written nine books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs and is a renowned columnist and speaker in both the US and internationally. His articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, The Tablet, Jesus, Second Opinion, The Nation, the Miami Herald, Die Furche, the Irish Examiner, and many other publications.

He has received honorary doctorates from four universities in the US and Canada, is a senior Vatican analyst for CNN, and was a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter for 16 years. Allen is a native of Kansas, a state in the exact geographic center of the US.
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From your own experience, what is the worst injustice you have ever seen when a person actually forgives?

There are two: Marietta Jaeger, who forgave the murderer of her young daughter.  This is documented in a film, From Fury to Forgiveness, which appeared on television in the 1990’s.  The other is Eva Moses Kor, who was part of the “twin experiments” at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and who forgave the Nazis.  This is documented in the film, Forgiving Dr. Mengele.

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‘Horton Hears a Who’ fosters forgiveness in Northern Ireland

CRUX Media, Rome, Italy – Horton Hears a Who, the classic tale of the elephant Horton and his struggle to save the invisible “Whos,” is a staple in the forgiveness education programs Dr. Robert Enright has been nurturing in Belfast for the past 16 years. Now, according to one prominent media source, Dr. Enright’s curriculum guides have “proven an effective way to teach forgiveness in a community long torn apart by Catholic and Protestant tensions.”

Calling forgiveness therapy “a relatively new and scarcely-used science aimed at understanding and applying the redeeming quality of forgiveness,” CRUX Media says Dr. Enright’s use of Dr. Seuss stories provides “powerful tools for imparting values, especially to children.”

CRUX, an international, independent Catholic media outlet operated in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, featured Dr. Enright’s work in its Jan. 20 website edition.  

According to the article, Holy Cross Primary School, for girls aged 4 to 11, was one of the first Belfast schools to adopt Dr. Enright’s forgiveness initiative and has used it continuously since 2001. One of the school’s teachers says forgiveness is a crucial concept there because students have first-hand knowledge of abuse, suicide, violence, and family breakdown.

“This program empowers children to solve their own problems and recognize the inherent worth of others,” according to Annette Shannon, a support teacher at Holy Cross who has worked with Dr. Enright and his curriculum guides for the past six years. The concepts they are learning about self-worth and respect, she adds, “are important and powerful enough to be a force to bring change in their community,”

As he watches his work in Northern Ireland flourish, Dr. Enright earnestly believes, as do many others, “that forgiveness can be a path to peace, to be passed down through the generations.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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I recently read an article about “50 children under the care of the state were victims of substantiated sexual abuse.” I’m tired of reading about the sex abuse happening in our society. Is there a connection to anger, lack of forgiveness to sex offenders? If there is a connection what about forgiveness therapy for sex offenders; can it help in lowering the chance of re-offending? If so, can forgiveness therapy/curriculum in schools, anger management programs, prisons etc possibly lower the incidences of sex abuse?

It has been estimated that about 30% of sex offenders have been sexually abused prior to their crimes. Thus, your point that some sex offenders might benefit from Forgiveness Therapy is valid. It is valid for about a third of this population.  The other 70% may be suffering from narcissism, the failure to see the personhood in others, and other challenges.  Forgiveness Therapy may not be effective in these other cases, but if such therapy could aid a third of this population, that would be significant assistance.
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What are the costs of forgiving?

When a person is not used to forgiving, this is not unlike a sedentary person starting a physical fitness program.  It can be uncomfortable thinking kindly about the other.  It takes work.  Bearing the pain that the other caused you also is painful, but as you bear the pain, it lessens and lifts.  The questions of whether or not to return to a relationship can be painful as can the other’s rejection of your forgiving.  All of these might be called “costs,” but they do pay the dividends of emotional healing and possibly relational healing.

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