But this is an interesting essay, in any case, from Tim Townsend, at WSJ, "Can We Forgive?":
Forgiveness is central to the Christian faith. Christ's death represents the forgiveness of man's sin. All men. All sin. And Christians are expected to try to imitate it. "If Jesus could forgive the people who murdered him, there's something in that model that should apply to all of us," Fr. Ryan said. "I don't understand it all, but I'm willing to follow that model based on everything else I know and believe."
Jewish tradition teaches that since God forgives, so must his creation. Forgiveness is at the heart of the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. But victims are obligated to forgive only when the perpetrator has gone through a process of repentance, called teshuvah. Similarly, in Islam, forgiveness is tied closely to repentance.
Some see moral value in not forgiving. When a dying SS soldier in a concentration camp hospital asked Simon Wiesenthal for his forgiveness for the soldier's part in a massacre of Jews, Wiesenthal remained silent and walked away. A devout friend in the camp told Wiesenthal he had done the right thing: "You would have had no right to do this in the name of people who had not authorized you to do so. What people have done to you yourself, you can, if you like, forgive and forget. That is your own affair. But it would have been a terrible sin to burden your conscience with other people's sufferings."
When the aggrieved have been murdered, and the murderers are gone, too, do those who survived or the families of those who died have the moral standing to forgive? Maybe, Fr. Ryan told me, the answer is simply to stand for the opposite of the evil that was done. "I don't know if I see the devil dressed in red with a pitchfork and hooves," he said. "But evil is a force in the world, and if we don't consciously counteract it, the consequences are tragic."
"I looked up and I saw people jumping," he told me, his eyes glassy. "I saw several of them holding hands." Fr. Ryan paused. "I'm sorry. I don't talk about this a lot."