If someone is unable to forgive, would you consider that to be a weakness in his character?
It takes time to become proficient in any virtue, according to both Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle. Put another way, we develop into more courageous, forgiving, fair, or kind people. As a result, we all have a particular “character weakness” since we are constantly in the process of being more and more perfected in forgiving.
What does it mean to become “more perfected”? As we repeatedly exercise forgiveness and develop as forgivers, we:
1) gain a deeper understanding of what forgiveness is and is not;
2) are more inclined to put it into practice even in the face of severe pain brought on by major injustices;
3) proceed more easily through the process; and
4) finish the process more fully so that, after forgiving one person and one incident, we feel less bitterness and more compassion.
Finally, let me say this: we should be understanding of others who find it difficult to forgive since we are all at different stages of the forgiveness process. A person’s current struggles do not indicate a lack of moral character. Alternatively, it could imply that this person is developing in virtue and is encountering a challenge on this particular journey. This does not imply that the person will experience difficulties with a different person or situation tomorrow. We are all growing in our perfection of this virtue.