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jpii_forgiveness-largeOn 1st November, 2014, just as she had planned it, Brittany Maynard ended her own life at home in Oregon surrounded by family. Brittany, aged just 29 had been suffering from terminal cancer.

The Catholic Church teaches that suicide is a grave sin, and that life, all life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. But it also recognises that only God knows the disposition of her soul at the moment of death. The Church preaches that only God can decide the final and eternal destination of a soul. We also believe that God is a God of mercy and love.

I still recall the picture of Pope Saint John Paul II with Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot him 4 times in St Peter’s Square, Rome on May 13, 1981. The Pope is said to have already pardoned him before they met and not only preached but demonstrated mercy, love and forgiveness throughout his life.

When Jesus was arrested, he must have spent many hours in solitary confinement between the trials that occurred during the night of Holy Thursday. What do you think he did? Well we can only speculate, but I suggest he prayed to his heavenly father. Who do you think was uppermost in his thoughts? Mary, his mother most certainly. Peter and the other disciples who had deserted, yes, them too.

But what of Judas, for he knew not what he had done but Jesus knew him well, well enough to pardon him for his betrayal and to ask his Father for forgiveness for Judas. What else would a loving God full of mercy love and compassion do?