The Tablet Editorial 20th May 2017

My good friend Drob likes my 'nicks' of the editorials from The Tablet [The Catholic weekly news magazine] BUT told me that because the type size gets to be sub 7points on a 'screen grab' they are often unreadable. So I scanned this one in. Hope its more readable.

This week the subject is particularly controversial. Christians believe that Christ forgives anyone who display genuine remorse for his/her crimes. They came to this belief because he forgave the murderer that was being crucified on the cross next to His one.

The Moors Murderer Ian Brady died this week... do his enormous crimes put Him in a place where no matter the passion of his remorse God [and man] will never, and can never, ever forgive him? 

What do you think? 


Leader of this Weeks Tablet Magazine




This Sunday not many preachers will be eager to choose the death in prison of Moors murderer Ian Brady as the subject for their weekly sermon. They will have heard that the family of one of his victims damned him to “rot in hell” on hearing the news, and they might presume that most of their congregation would concur. Indeed, they might think that the doctrine of hell, a place where the wicked are punished for all eternity, was necessary precisely because of cases like this.

The evil acts that Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley committed were so extreme, and the suffering experienced by the surviving members of the families of the children they murdered is still so raw, that we should hesitate before talking too glibly of the

doctrine of forgiveness and redemption. The late Lord Longford laboured bravely, long and hard, to bring the grace of Christian mercy to Hindley. He succeeded mainly in compromising his own good name and looking foolish. At least for a while she returned to the practice of the Catholic faith in which she had been baptised, but ultimately it seems that she rejected Lord Longford’s spiritual overtures. Her goal, in which she never came close to succeeding, appeared not so much to be to save her soul but to qualify for

parole by displaying outward signs of repentance. Brady, it seems, never even started down that road.

That neither of them ever truly confronted the extent of their evil deeds suggests that both of them were psychopaths, with Brady the more extreme case. Psychopaths may know intellectually that certain actions are wrong, or at least are deemed so by society, but they lack the emotional capacity to empathise with their victim. This suggests that compassion, the ability to “suffer with”, is a fundamental constituent of all morality. Its absence can open the door to unimaginable horrors; its presence creates the capacity for remorse.

The presence of a tiny minority of people in society who are unable to imagine themselves in the place of the other, is an aspect of human life that is disturbing to psychiatrists and challenging to moral theologians. If someone is incapable of experiencing sympathy and compassion, can we say they are responsible for their actions, and should be punished for them — even unto eternity, in the Christian scheme of things?

The judge at the trial of Brady and Hindley declared in sentencing them that they were evil “beyond redemption”. It is dif´Čücult to square that with Christian teaching that Christ died for all, without exception, “that all may be saved”(1 Timothy 2:4). It implies that at some moment in the mind and soul of a psychopath, in this life or the next, a last spark of remorse may still be possible. And hence even the hope — however remote — of redemption.


Does this make you feel very angry?

Does the article leave you baffled, a bit bewildered?

Or just indifferent because its an alien concept to you that anyone should be bothered one way or the other about beings such as Myra Hindley and Ian Brady?

If I am absolutely honest I fit in this third bracket. I don't want forgiveness for monsters. I am off now to throw out all the mirrors where we live. The Lord's Prayer comes into my mind now...

Forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those that tresspass against us

and lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil....