Forgiveness Forum4 part1
Nov 25, 2022

Forgiveness Forum: Where Spirituality & Science Meet | Panel 2 of 3 (video)

Hear faith leaders share personal stories of the role forgiveness has played in their own lives as they explain what forgiveness looks like in their respective religious contexts.

By Templeton Staff

Moderated by On Being's founder, journalist Krista Tippett, faith leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and scholar Dr. Josef Boehle, this edition of the Forgiveness Forum, was co-designed by Religions for Peace International and Templeton World Charity Foundation. It brought together leaders from 5 of the world’s major religious traditions to discuss the importance and impact of forgiveness in their respective communities. A full list of speakers can be found below. Play the above video to hear the second in a three-part series of panels from the event. 

Throughout this conversation from the latest installment of the Forgiveness Forum, the featured faith leaders each share the importance of forgiveness to each of their traditions.

Ligia Matamoros, Youth Pastor for the Latin American Catholic Episcopal Council, works with young people in Latin America and the Caribbean. She says "from our point of view, forgiveness is a duty. It's an obligation, and it's represented by the cross, this experience of deep love that leads to sacrifice."

To Grand-Father Dominique Rankin, forgiveness and acceptance are interconnected, and both these practices lead to "living in truth." As a child, he was taken away from his parents and forcefully placed in a school with other Indigenous children. He shares a little of his personal experience with forgiveness, and how it has helped him navigate the trauma he suffered.

Forgiveness is at the center of Islam, says Dr. ABD Raimi Chitou. "It's primordial — it's the first thing, the most important thing. The ties of brotherhood that we share depend on forgiveness… It’s said in the Quran 27 times that we need to forgive... the person who forgives is the person who has the character of God. The person who forgives will quickly find solutions to his problems."

In the Hindu scriptures, explains Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, there are many powerful stories of forgiveness, that provide inspiration and "a clear emphasis that forgiveness does not mean condoning." She continues: "Forgiveness means simply that we deserve to be free, that regardless of what someone did to us in their ignorance... we still deserve to be free, and we cannot be free until we forgive."

A full transcript of the event is available here.

● Dr. Josef Boehle, Director, Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation
● Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran minister, podcaster, and New York Times bestselling author
● Dr. ABD Raimi Chitou, Imam of Central Mosque, Zone Des Ambassades, Cotonou, and Member of Religions for Peace Benin and African Forum of Muslim Council
● Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in North America
● Professor Azza Karam, PhD., Secretary General, Religions for Peace International
● Ligia Matamoros, Latin American Youth Pastor for the Latin American Catholic Episcopal Council
● Grand-Father Dominique Rankin, Former Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation
● Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Spiritual Leader, Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
● Dr. Andrew Serazin, President of Templeton World Charity Foundation
● Krista Tippett, American journalist, author, and entrepreneur. Creator and host of the public radio program and podcast On Being.

Learn more about the speakers in this segment:

Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Spiritual Leader, Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
Sadhviji is a renowned spiritual leader and motivational speaker, based in Rishikesh, India. She’s the author of newly released #1 bestselling memoir, Hollywood to the Himalayas: A Journey of Healing and Transformation. Originally from Los Angeles, a graduate of Stanford University, and a PhD in psychology, Sadhviji has lived on the banks of the sacred Ganga river, in the lap of the Himalayas for more than 25 years, engaged in spiritual service, wisdom teaching, sacred action, and deep spiritual practice. Sadhviji is the Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an international interfaith organization dedicated to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; President of Divine Shakti Foundation, a foundation that runs free schools, vocational training programs, and empowerment programs.

Ms. Ligia Matamoros, Latin American Youth Pastor for the Latin American Catholic Episcopal Council (CELAM)
Ligia Elena Matamoros works with the Federation of Students of the UNED and is part of the Latin American and Caribbean Youth Ministry Team of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) to promote processes where young people integrate their faith and their lives and become builders of the Civilization of Love.

Grand-Father Dominique Rankin, Algonquin Hereditary Grand Chief; Co-President of Religions for Peace
In 2006, he was admitted to the small circle of 49 recognized medicine men in Canada. Since then, Kapiteotak (his real name at birth and his spiritual name) has devoted himself to teaching traditional knowledge to the Anishinabeg peoples (members of the Algonquin family) as a way of reconnecting them with their roots. He also shares his knowledge with people of all origins who are interested in learning about the simple, profound philosophy of his ancestors. With Marie-Josée Tardif, he co-wrote an autobiography relating his youth in Native residential schools: On nous appelait les Sauvages (They called us Savages).

Imam ABD Raimi Chitou, Member of Religions for Peace Benin and African Forum of Muslim Councils, Vice Chancellor of High Institute of Language and Sciences, and Imam of Central Mosque Zone Des Ambassadades in Cotonou, Benin
Imam ABD Raimi Chitou is a renowned scholar and religious leader, serving both as the Imam of Central Mosque Zone Des Ambassadades in Cotonou, Benin and a lecturer in Arabic linguistics. He was awarded the Award of Excellence by the local government in Saudi Arabia, has numerous publications in Arabic, and has attended a number of international conferences and seminars. Imam Chitou received his Ph.D. in Arabic Linguistics from the Udus Univeristy in Sokoto, Nigeria, and has been teaching since 1998.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (Congressional Arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in North America)
A longtime and devoted creative change agent, Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as a dynamic, visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York. During his tenure, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of lifelong learners, and strengthened the synagogue’s commitment to vibrancy and inclusion. Prior to his tenure at WRT, Rabbi Jacobs served the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he founded and co-directed the first synagogue-based homeless shelter in New York City. Dedicated to global social justice issues, Rabbi Jacobs was part of a delegation that assessed disaster response following Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010. He also observed the plight of Darfur refugees as part of an international humanitarian mission to the Chad-Darfur border area in 2005, and in 2009, participated in an annual conference of Muslim and Christian leaders, held in Qatar, designed to build understanding between the West and the Muslim world.

Templeton World Charity Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation have been supporting research on forgiveness for over 20 years. Scientific research on forgiveness has shown us simple interventions can improve physical health, mental wellbeing, and relationships across all ages. More than fifty studies conducted around the world have found that forgiveness significantly improves mental health outcomes such as depression, anger, hostility, and stress. Learn more about our work supporting forgiveness at: