The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

by

Simon Wiesenthal

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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Franklin H. Littel Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Littel explains that the main problem for Karl was that “the only human persons who could have forgiven him were dead.” Christians believe that only Divine intervention can release the soul burdened with guilt. He notes that the leaders of the churches seem to do very little in the way of proclaiming the sin and guilt of the perpetrators and bystanders.
Though many Christians believe Simon should forgive Karl, Littel offers an explanation for why it is so puzzling that Karl asked Simon for forgiveness: only God (via a priest) could have truly unburdened Karl of his guilt.
Themes
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Littel notes that Christian establishments are in “defensive formation,” and rarely have acknowledged anti-Judaic teaching and prejudice. They have not, he believes, acknowledged the large difference between Christian words and Christian actions. Littel believes that in order to move forward, public entities must enforce the law, and individuals and groups must be made aware of the choice between good and evil.
Littel also implicates the Church in its own small way, for also being complicit in propagating anti-Semitic teachings. Littel’s last point here also carries the implication that Karl did not commit these crimes in spite of his Catholic upbringing, but that his upbringing may have contributed to the prejudice that allowed the crimes.
Themes
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon