From Against to With One Another
Past injustice acknowledged as being unjust, address existing differences, and ask for forgiveness
Past injustice cannot be undone. The punishment of perpetrators often does little to change the situation of those who have suffered unjustly. What, then, does the acknowledgment of guilt and forgiveness accomplish?
Today, three Bernese churches symbolize the processes of reconciliation between the Reformed Church and the Anabaptists: the Nydegg Church, the Bern Minster and the Peace Church. Worship services have been celebrated in all three over the past few years, concluding a common reconciliation process. One of these processes was that both sides had an opportunity to tell the other their views concerning the conflict-laden story. And they asked each other for forgiveness where they had been guilty of harming the other. In discussions, it was explored which beliefs are held in common today, where one can be well underway together despite differing views, and where the differences in the views indicate the need for further discussion. A result of such a process has been recorded in the document ""Christ is our peace" (in German).It expresses the fact that the reconciled churches are underway together.
The story of the Anabaptists in the canton of Bern, though, is also a political story. At this level, in November 2017, the speech (in German) of the Bernese governing council member and church director Christoph Neuhaus opened new doors by requesting: "And so, this evening, I ask you in all simplicity for forgiveness for all that our canton was done to cause Anabaptists to suffer."
Forgiveness does not undo past injustice. But it obliges those who seek reconciliation to look for new ways in the future and to be careful not to repeat old mistakes. For the Anabaptists today, this means that the state is committed to following the laws for the protection of minorities and dissenters as found today in the European Convention on Human Rights .