Tuesday, August 25, 2009

compassion without limits

There's lots of controversy at the moment around the release of the Lockerbie bomber. The bombing was a terrible criminal act. But my instinct is that the Scottish Government has done a good thing in granting compassionate release, however unpopular or difficult the decision, however inappropriately received.

I am rooted in the Jesus story - and it seems to me that the Teacher-Healer's life, death and resurrection was an story of compassion without limit. The extent of his compassion shocked many people - "does he not realise what kind of woman she is" - surprised even his own disciples, and was not dependent on the spirit in which it was received.

It's so important that we don't become like the bad stuff we want to resist. We need to live the grace that we talk about. Here's a link to the statement by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

The pic is a favourite icon of mine - 'Christ and the friend' - very early [5th C?] God help me to become and remain compassionate.


ben edson said...

Ian, thanks for this I've been pondering it for some days.

I am supportive of the decision but cannot help compare this with ronnie bigg's release a few weeks ago. When he was released, i listened to an old news article where he commented that he wasn't sorry for what he had done. He enjoyed the notoriety, enjoyed his infamy.

I struggle with this as there is no sense of remorse or seeking forgiveness rather, a sticking two fingers up and saying yes I'd do it again...

Compassion and reconciliation must go together rather.

Ian Adams said...

here's a statement by Archbishop Conti [Scottish Catholic Archbishop ]

Following the controversy which has marked the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing on grounds of compassion, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow released the following statement:

"I personally, and many others in the Catholic community admired the decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on grounds of compassion which is, after all, one of the principles inscribed on the mace of the Scottish Parliament by which Scotland’s Government should operate.

"The showing of mercy in any situation is not a sign of weakness. Indeed in this situation, with the pressures and circumstances of the case, it seemed to me a sign of manifest strength.

"Despite contrary voices I believe it is a decision which will be a source of satisfaction for many Scots and one which will be respected in the international community.

"I have been impressed by the expressions of understanding and insight from Dr Jim Swire and other relatives who lost loved ones on the Pan Am flight who have acknowledged both the rightness of the gesture of compassion and their doubts as to the safety of the original conviction

“I would welcome any move which would try to find clearer answers as to what happened and why.”

Ian Adams said...

and here's a statement from the Church of Scotland:

The Church of Scotland today praised the decision that meant Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was released today on compassionate grounds by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill.

Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland said:

“This decision has sent a message to the world about what it is to be Scottish. We are defined as a nation by how we treat those who have chosen to hurt us. Do we choose mercy even when they did not choose mercy?

This was not about whether one man was guilty or innocent. Nor is it about whether he had a right to mercy but whether we as a nation, despite the continuing pain of many, are willing to be merciful. I understand the deep anger and grief that still grips the souls of the victims’ families and I respect their views. But to them I would say justice is not lost in acting in mercy. Instead our deepest humanity is expressed for the better. To choose mercy is the tough choice and today our nation met that challenge.

We have gained something significant as a Nation by this decision. It is a defining moment for all of us.”

Derek said...

As a semi-frequent visitor to your blog, I just wanted to thank you for posting the icon, which is new to me and has given me a lot to think on the past few days.

Your post also helped me get my head around Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's release and the quotes here further reinforce my sense that the right decision was made.

Thanks for your reflections on the blog.

God bless,