We have just finished another Acton University, and I want to thank all who participated. It is always edifying to meet so many people from so many walks of life who are deeply interested in promoting human dignity and human flourishing.
For years at Acton University, we've been blessed to have powerful plenary speakers addressing the issues of religious liberty and forgiveness under the harshest of circumstances. Most of us cannot fathom having to deal with the likes of Nazi or communist totalitarianism, genocide, or a violent revolution happening right outside our window, but a number of plenary speakers over the years have. This year, Marina Nemat, a soft-spoken lady gave a simply eloquent talk about her imprisonment at the age of 16 under the Khomeini regime in Iran. She spoke of her arrest for requesting that her calculus teacher refrain from political rhetoric and teach the class subject. She spoke of her torture and abuse in prison - yet her message was not grim.
In fact, Marina Nemat's message is just the opposite: There is hope in freedom. We humans are capable of evil, but we are also capable of great good. Her emphatic declaration is that we are all responsible for each other, or to put it in more biblical language, we are our brother's keeper. Ms. Nemat also spoke clearly on the topic of forgiveness. "If I don't forgive, I'll be a prisoner forever," she said, telling those gathered that forgiveness is the only way to true freedom.
In a time when religious liberty is tenuous for so many (here I think of Syria, Afghanistan, the Holy Land and our own United States), the message that Ms. Nemat brought to Acton University was a muchneeded one.
We Christians would do well to ponder the line of the Lord's Prayer, "…forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those that trespass against us." We know that we are asking God to hold us to the same measure of mercy that we are willing to grant to those who have injured us. It is a powerful thing to ask of God and of ourselves. Yet, as Ms. Nemat so superbly stated, it is the only way to true freedom for each of us. Thank you for supporting our important work.
Rev. Robert Sirico, President