Forgive Lance Armstrong?

Tom Pennington GETTY IMAGES Cyclist Lance Armstrong addresses participants at The LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride at the Palmer Events Center on … Continued

Tom Pennington


Cyclist Lance Armstrong addresses participants at The LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride at the Palmer Events Center on October 21, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

Should we forgive Lance Armstrong for his public deception on using performance-enhancing drugs? Writes the Rev. James Martin, SJ:

I have some very complicated feelings about Lance Armstrong’s upcoming confession and, I presume, apology on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

As a Jesuit, a priest, a Catholic and a Christian, I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity for forgiveness. Our faith is founded on a forgiving love. It’s surely the hardest part of being a Christian, but perhaps the most essential. Jesus himself forgave his executioners from the Cross. Later, after the Resurrection, Jesus forgave Peter, after Peter denied him three times before the Crucifixion. And Jesus asked his followers to forgive one another “seventy times seven” times. Finally, one of his most famous parables is the Prodigal Son, who is forgiven by his father even before asking for pardon.

So it’s pretty clear what the Christian is supposed to do: hard as it may seem, forgive.

Read more of Martin’s explainer on how to think morally about Armstrong here at America magazine.

Dive deeper into the spirituality of public confessions: Lance Armstrong’s doping confession: An American ritual. “A nonreligious star athlete confesses his sins to Oprah. Only in America.”

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  • Hannah43211

    Fr. Martin – Interesting commentary. Armstrong has long acknowledged that God does not exist. He is a devout atheist. Maybe it’s time for you, Fr. Martin, to reach out to Lance and have a conversation about the life and teaching of Jesus Christ and the personification of truth and authenticity, as well as the benefits of a Christ-centered lifestyle. Good luck with that. Meanwhile I hope you will pray for the many people who Lance Armstrong intentionally harmed and irreparably hurt while he guarded his life of lies.

  • It wasn’t me


    Ignore little cheater

  • Hannah43211

    Fr. Martin,

    Would you say to Lance Armstrong who is ostensibly asking for forgiveness* but never forgave his own father?

    *reportedly so he can compete in triathlon

  • di89

    Forgive as in, not harbor hatred for the guy, let the (righteous) anger go away once it has been recognized…absolutely. That is indeed the Christian way.

    Like him? Act like nothing happened or it was not a big deal? Not expect him to make restitution where it’s possible? Trust him again, either ever or for a very, very long time. No. Fortunately that’s not what “forgiveness” means.


    After he is totally done with the court, he can petal of into the sunset.

  • scaredy-cat

    I don’t know if he has come clean or not,but I think it does need courage to confess all to the public,esp one with such high reputation.Or maybe he just wants to avoid perjury sentence…..

  • lepidopteryx

    He has not wronged me, so it is neither necessary nor possible for me to forgive him.
    He wronged the other cyclists when he won races due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. THEY are the ones who must decide whether or not to forgive him.

  • tony55398

    I forgive him, but why is he confessing, is it because he wants to compete again? The pressure to win in this country, at any cost puts many people, not just athletes, in a position where they will often use means to win that are not fair or legal. Nothing like money, power and prestige to influence a person’s actions, in this world where they are valued as a person’s highest goal.

  • Secular1

    I personally never thought much of the issue of doping and other technological means to get an edge in athletic competition. Was it ever considered it, wrong for cyclist to ride a more customized and technologically superior bike? Did a sprinter who ran the race without the latest sprinting shoes get to decide when every other sprinter would wear the latest in sneakers? Answer to any of these questions is a resounding NO. Then why not allow the athletes to use, whatever technology, however they choose to use, to gain advantage in teh chosen sport? In my eyes the advantage Lance Armstrong got perhaps wasn’t anywhere close the advantage a rich athlete has from the very beginning compared to a poor athlete. Do we require the rich athlete to handicap himself, for that reason, NO. So I feel he has nothing to apologize for in my book.

    That said what he did in order to hide his infractions is something he ought to be ashamed of. He needs to be ashamed of hurting all the people whom he trampled on. He famously said that he did not feel guilty for taking advantage of biotechnology to gain an edge. For someone who felt that must have taken on the whole sports establishment to throw these pretensions of natural talent facade. Let the athlete make the decision and teh rest of us just shutup and be entertained or not.

    That said Lance Armstrong is a worthless cad, to have destroyed peoples lives and in the end he did not follow through with his convictions to get rid of teh facade that all sporting bodies hypocritically wax eloquence about. Only saving grace is that he did not find JC. The day he takes that step, he would have kissed any semblance of any moral scruples, goodbye.