The F Word Podcast examines the complex, messy, gripping subject of forgiveness.
In each episode Marina Cantacuzino, a journalist and founder of The Forgiveness Project, talks to a guest who despite having experienced great pain or trauma in their life has found a way through.
Some have forgiven those who’ve harmed them, others are grappling with forgiving themselves. Not everyone is able to forgive. Not everyone has made complete peace with their past.
But all those featured on the show display a strength that has grown out of vulnerability and they all bear witness to the human search for meaning.
How to listen
“This is a unique look into how individuals process, cope and ultimately heal. Highly recommended.”
“Revelatory insight into recovering from severe trauma.”
“These conversations are so profound, fascinating and hopeful. Love every one! Thank you for making them.”
“The honesty and courage in every one of these diverse and unique stories is awe inspiring.”
“This podcast has engaged, challenged, and moved me. Above all, it has motivated me to think considerately about my own actions and prejudices.”
“A wonderful podcast which manages to eschew the glib clichés of the subject and instead drill down into something more profound. Wonderfully non-judgemental. And highly recommended.”
“The stories are breathtaking, but this is not the only affect these podcasts have on me: they help me to get in touch with a kinder and more compassionate place inside myself.”
2nd Febuary 2022
Ray Minniecon on the power of apology and why ideas around healing and forgiveness can be problematic for Aboriginal people
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Pastor Ray Minniecon about the history of the Stolen Generations and the continuing pain of Aboriginals in Australia. Ray describes his own childhood on the reserves, his research into the dehumanisation of Aboriginals, and how he continues to help his people share their story, as well come to terms with acts of racism in his own life.
19th January 2022
Mary Foley on faith, forgiveness, and how writing to her daughter’s killer brought her peace of mind
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Mary Foley about the impact that losing her teenage daughter to knife-crime had on her family, and how forgiving the young woman responsible relieved her of a burden she didn’t want to carry.
5th January 2022
Pardeep Kaleka on finding forgiveness after his father was killed in one of America’s deadliest race-based hate crimes
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Pardeep Kaleka about how in the wake of his father’s murder in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin he found compassion and became a powerful voice against hate crime and violence. Pardeep now works to promote understanding and compassion with his friend Arno Michaelis who is also a guest on The F Word Podcast. Having both experienced extreme racism, albeit from very different ends of the spectrum, together they co-founded the organization Serve2Unite and co-authored the book, The Gift Of Our Wounds.
22nd December 2021
Arno Michaelis on rejecting his racist past, and the role of unconditional forgiveness in creating a life after hate
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Arno Michaelis about his time spent in the white power movement and how he transformed his life to become an advocate against hatred and racism. Arno now works to promote understanding and compassion with his friend Pardeep Kaleka who is also a guest on The F Word Podcast. Having both experienced extreme racism, albeit from very different ends of the spectrum, together they co-founded the organization Serve2Unite and co-authored the book, The Gift Of Our Wounds.
8th December 2021
Jo Berry and Pat Magee on finding healing through understanding in the aftermath of the Brighton bomb
Marina Cantacuzino talks Jo Berry and Pat Magee about the benefits and complexities of a relationship developed over 20 years. Despite the fact that Pat killed Jo’s father, their story has become a very public conversation and a profound example of reconciliation. Jo is an international speaker, educationist and peace activist. Pat Magee is a former member of the IRA who has recently published a memoir, Where Grieving Begins.
24th November 2021
Gill Hicks on the healing power of the arts and how seeking to understand has aided her recovery
Marina Cantacuzino talks to author, musician and artist Gill Hicks who narrowly escaped death when she was horrifically and permanently disabled during the terrorist attacks in London in the summer of 2005. She has devoted much of her time since then to deterring anyone from following a path of violent extremism.
10th November 2021
Wilma Derksen on how forgiving can resuscitate and revive, as well as cause isolation and incite criticism
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Wilma Derksen, author, therapist and advocate for healing justice. Ever since Wilma’s 13-year-old daughter Candace was found bound and murdered in a shed in Winnipeg, Wilma has been on a profound, difficult and circuitous journey of forgiveness and self-healing.
27th October 2021
Geoff Thompson and Andrea Martinez on forgiveness, self-preservation and surviving sexual assault
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Geoff Thompson and Andrea Martinez – both victims of child sexual abuse. Geoff Thompson is a filmmaker, prolific author and martial artist. Andrea Martinez is an actress, talk show host and young mother. Their connection comes through having had a profound conversation a few years ago when Geoff was able to offer Andrea support and advice in dealing with the trauma.
13th October 2021
Figen Murray on how forgiving her son’s killer has preserved her humanity
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Figen Murray about what forgiveness means in the context of losing a child in a terrorist attack. In May 2017 her son, Martyn Hett, was killed at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester when a radical Islamist detonated a homemade bomb. Since then Figen has become an active campaigner and activist in counter-terrorism.
29th September 2021
Michael Lapsley on racism, apartheid and when forgiveness requires repentance
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Father Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest, social justice activist and founder of the Institute for Healing of Memories in Cape Town. In 1990 at the height of the apartheid repression, Fr Michael received a letter bomb in the post in which he lost both his hands and one eye. He has been on a healing journey ever since.
19th January 2021
Azim Khamisa on grieving, his spiritual practice and the importance of asking for forgiveness
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Azim Khamisa who founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation after his only son, Tariq, was shot and killed while delivering pizzas in San Diego in 1995. Tariq’s killer, Tony Hicks, was 14-years-old at the time and has only recently been released from prison. Azim has spent the past 25 years talking about forgiveness and tirelessly working to prevent youth violence in America.
6th January 2021
Letlapa Mphahlele on prejudice, apartheid and the burden of being forgiven
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Letlapa Mphahlele about his role in the struggle against apartheid and how he came to meet the mother of one of his victims. Ginn Fourie’s daughter was killed in 1993 at a massacre in a Cape Town bar. Nine years later she met Letlapa, the former Director of Operations for the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, who had ordered the attack.
23rd December 2020
Kia Scherr on traumatic loss and grief as a spiritual practice
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Kia Scherr whose husband and 13-year-old daughter were both victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Kia is the co-founder of One Life Alliance, a charity she set up as a response to the attacks.
9th December 2020
Paul Kohler on how a brutal attack in his own home changed the course of his life
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Paul Kohler whose story hit the headlines in 2014 when four men broke into his London home leaving him with severe facial injuries. His wife and daughter were also in the house at the time of the attack and later all three met one of the offenders through restorative justice to try and have their questions answered.
11th November 2020
Zak Ebrahim on being radicalised by his father, learning tolerance and the meaning of forgiveness in relation to extremist ideologies
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Zak Ebrahim. When Zak was seven, his father shot and killed the founder of the Jewish Defence League, Rabbi Meir Kahane and later was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Zak’s story is one of transforming his past and learning to reject bigotry and hate.
28th October 2020
Jacob Dunne on vulnerability and facing the true impact of his crime through meeting the mother of the man he killed
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Jacob Dunne who aged 18 was convicted of manslaughter for killing a man with a single punch. This episode tells the story of Jacob’s gradual rehabilitation and the vital role played by the parents of the man he killed – James Hodgkinson.
14th October 2020
Joan Scourfield on facing the man who killed her son and the profound impact of restorative justice
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Joan Scourfield, the mother of James who in 2011 was killed when a young man called, Jacob Dunne, threw a fatal punch in an unprovoked attack in Nottingham, England. A few years later Joan and her then husband David came face-to-face with Jacob in a restorative justice meeting.
30th September 2020
Bjørn Ihler on the power of personal storytelling and why it’s important not to dehumanize terrorists
Marina Cantacuzino talks to 29-year-old Bjørn Ihler, a writer, filmmaker and ‘peace activist’ from Norway. Bjørn is a survivor of the attack on Utøya Island in July 2011 when far-right extremist Anders Breivik killed 69 people and injured many more. Bjørn’s expertise lies in countering extremist narratives, as well as deconstructing their propaganda.
30th September 2020
Stephanie Cassatly on rage and the gift of remorse
Marina Cantacuzino talks to Stephanie Cassatly, a writer, teacher, mother and wife from Florida. When Stephanie was 18, her mother was shot and killed in a convenience store robbery in New Orleans, changing every preconceived notion she had about the world and what it meant to feel safe.
Marina Cantacuzino MBE is an award-winning journalist who has worked for most British mainstream publications including The Guardian, The Telegraph and Hello magazine.
In 2003, in response to the invasion of Iraq, she embarked on a personal project collecting stories of people who had lived through trauma and injustice, and sought forgiveness rather than revenge. As a result Marina founded The Forgiveness Project and started speaking widely about forgiveness and restorative storytelling.
Join The F Word Podcast Facebook Group
This Facebook community exists solely to discuss ideas and issues that arise from The F Word Podcast series.
We hope that this group can help to cultivate hope and resilience after harm and trauma, and foster understanding around concepts of compassion, empathy and forgiveness.
We also hope it will help you connect with people who can present new perspectives to difficult issues.
Credits and Thanks
The podcast logo is by Thea Bryant.
The theme music was produced and gifted to us by Cuzino.
Podcast editor and recording engineer for Season 2 is Liam Wilkinson.
And a big thank you to the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace for supporting the development of our podcast and to Pat Bird for volunteering to type up all the transcripts.