‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word.’ So sang Sir Elton John many years ago. And I think he’s right. Saying sorry doesn’t always come easily to us.

There’s a saying, apparently, current amongst some politicians that runs like this: ‘Never admit; never apologise.’ Evidently for such people ‘sorry’ is not just a hard word to say: it’s wrong.

For all that, I know a number of politicians, and the ones I know would certainly not be ashamed to say they got something wrong.

And I certainly hope the newly elected members of the streamlined Cornwall Council will never be afraid to say sorry either. I just don’t think you can have a healthy society, let alone a spirit of ‘One and all’ without it. None of us is perfect. We all get things wrong. And there is no shame at all in saying so.

Of course we in the church need to say sorry too. A recent Panorama programme revealed some deep seated racist attitudes in the Church of England. That is shameful. Jesus told us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, so to treat other people any less well than we would want to be treated ourselves is terrible. We must do better. And that must start simply by saying sorry.

And to the sin of racism we have to add the sin of safeguarding failures too. Too often the church’s response has been to hush things up. That’s the opposite of saying sorry and smacks far too much of, ‘Never admit; never apologise.’ And it is deeply and profoundly wrong.

When I was a young man I felt distant and far from God. But for me the turning point was when I knelt down and gave in to him, and said sorry for going my own way and ignoring his. I would say that was the key turning point of my life and anything and everything else I have done since has sprung from that moment.

‘Sorry’ may indeed seem to be the hardest word. But it might also be the most important one we ever say.