Recently I met someone who had been to South Africa to witness the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He had all the usual admiring things to say about it, with one new piece of information. All of the members of that commission are ill in one way or another, he said. No one has survived the process with his or her health intact. While a physician might come to a different conclusion, this observer—who happens to be a priest—is pretty sure he knows why the commissioners are all ill. The things they have heard have made them sick.
In their efforts to purge the soul of their country, they have listened to confessions so full of toxic material that their own health has broken down. They have encountered evil in such strong and unfiltered doses that their spirits have been deeply wounded, and the hurt has surfaced in their bodies. They have participated in the healing of their nation, at great personal cost.