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Limitations of This Guide

As mentioned previously, CMN approaches this guide with criminal justice–oriented ministries in mind, but knows that the possibility for restorative justice approaches are expansive.

In many cases, the themes, principles, and processes outlined here may be transferable to other areas of injustice (e.g., poverty, immigration, or family services).

In this section, we wish to identify particular areas where restorative approaches may be desired, but this guide is not designed to address them in full. 

Restorative Justice in Schools

Much of the wisdom regarding restorative justice in institutions in this guide was derived from the learnings of educators and school systems integrating restorative justice throughout the country. We encourage Catholic educators and school administrators to explore the existing research, resources, and implementation guides on this theme. 

Individual Instances of Grave Harm

Perhaps someone in your life or Catholic community has experienced or participated in grave or complex harm and seeks a restorative process. This guide may offer an introduction to key aspects of a process. However, when grave harm has occurred, it is important to seek out a skilled practitioner/organization with experience in the particular area of harm to determine if a restorative dialogue is appropriate and to facilitate accordingly. 

Responses to Clergy Sexual Abuse

Clergy sexual abuse is the source of deep wounds for many inside and outside the Catholic Church — in both the specific violations of individuals and widespread cover-up. The historical and institutional elements of these grave harms, combined with the complexity of trauma in cases of sexual harm, go beyond the capacity of this guide. 

CMN is grateful to the courageous ministries, dioceses, and practitioners who have undertaken such transformative endeavors and hopes that this resource may be complementary to others that are more specifically designed to address institutional and sexual harms. 

Facilitator Training

There is no “one-size-fits-all” restorative practice. As the training section will address, different processes may be needed for different circumstances. Furthermore, where common practice models are widespread, they are best adapted for the needs of a particular community. This resource provides guidance for seeking out training opportunities, but does not replace facilitator training.

Civil Discourse

Undoubtedly, there is great division in our society — politically and otherwise — and therefore a need exists to create spaces for dialogue and for honoring the human dignity of even those with whom we may vehemently disagree. 

While restorative practices can create spaces for such conversations, they are specifically intended to strengthen or repair relationships, not necessarily to foster agreement among differing perspectives. If this is a goal of your community, other frameworks and programs may be more appropriate.