Making Amends to the Magdalen Penitents
Can the reconciliation theory of atonement be applied to cases of group wrongdoing, including instances of historical injustice? Reconciliation is surely valuable in cases like these. Communities that have been ripped apart by ethnic violence, scandal, or political oppression need healing and a restoration of trust. But can we defend the claims of responsibility that seem to be necessary in order to attribute to groups an obligation to atone? This chapter argues that the reconciliation theory of atonement coheres with attributions of collective responsibility in a way that lends credibility to both views. This chapter returns to the case of the Magdalen asylums of Ireland and views it as a case of institutional abuse that calls for group atonement by the Roman Catholic Church. The role of both apology and reparations is discussed.
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