Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (reproduced with permission):
The nun says he (the Boston bomber) is sorry and shouldn’t receive the death penalty. His lawyers sent her, because he wouldn’t come himself. He didn’t testify and say he was sorry himself. She came because she is opposed to the death penalty, regardless of the circumstances.
I don’t want to debate the death penalty. There’s no death penalty in Canada. Here, it wouldn’t matter if he said he was sorry, or sent an intermediary to say what she understood he wanted to say.
I want to debate how we know that someone sincerely repents and hopes for our forgiveness. Maybe not to gain redemption, but just to live, to hope to redeem oneself, in God’s eyes, over the years that follow.
If he won’t come in person to tell me he repents – if he sends someone else because he can’t or won’t look me in the eye and swear he was wrong and is truly sorry – did he really repent? Was it sincere? I don’t really care if he looks me in the eye – that’s a cultural thing. I’d just want to hear him say it and to judge for myself from his tone and body language. I hope if I did something so bad, I’d have the courage either to apologize or else denounce the whole proceeding, and take whatever was given as a result.
As Paul said in the First Epistle to The Corinthians, we cannot know the heart of another. Only God knows. But we must have a basis for believing mercy should trump justice. There are victims here who didn’t die – the families of those who did. Their hearts cry for justice. How shall we decide whether the repentance expressed is enough to receive mercy from people, let alone God?
He declined to say he was sorry. That says something, loudly.