Redeeming the Past.
Leading South African peace-maker Michael Lapsley in conversation with Rowan Williams.
St Ethelburga's Centre, London
Monday 15 July 2013

Father Michael Lapsley SSM is Director of the Institute for The Healing of Memories. He is a former South African anti-apartheid activist who has turned his personal tragedy into a clarion call for peace and forgiveness. In 1990, three months after the release of Nelson Mandela, the ruling de Klerk government sent Father Lapsley a parcel containing two religious magazines. Inside one of them was a highly sophisticated bomb which blew off both of his hands, destroyed one eye and burned him severely.

Father Lapsley went on to work at the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, South Africa, which assisted the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. . "The journey of healing is to move from being a victim to a survivor to a victor, to take back agency," he says. "I realized that if I was filled with hatred and bitterness and desire for revenge, they would have failed to kill the body, but they would have killed the soul."

Rowan Williams is Master of Magdalene College Cambridge and former Archbisohjp of Cantebury. He says of Michael Lapsley's book "The Church often thinks it knows what the world wants from it — inspiration, 'leadership', clear teaching. But surely what the world is most hungry for is the simple knowledge that healing is possible — not by forgetting or minimizing outrages and sufferings but by sheer, obstinate, costly commitment to work with the grain of grace. This is what Father Michael has demonstrated in so many contexts across the globe, and this book is a wonderful testament to what the gospel can make happen."

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