(Washington, D.C.) A new podcast from Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) called Encounters With Dignity is helping grow Catholics’ understanding of restorative justice and encouraging listeners to engage with restorative practices.
The monthly series highlights stories and actionable wisdom from people bringing restorative justice to life in their parishes, communities, and society at large.
CMN serves as a national Catholic hub for restorative justice education and formation. The organization’s executive director, Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, says, “We are delighted to share this new podcast which shows it is possible to respond to harm, crime, and violence with restorative approaches that model Jesus’ reconciling way.”
In the first episode of Encounters With Dignity, listeners hear from Fr. David Kelly, C.PP.S., a Catholic priest and restorative justice practitioner who directs Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation on the South Side of Chicago. Fr. Kelly speaks about restorative justice’s natural alignment with Catholic social teaching principles, and encourages people of good will to engage deeply with this reconciling approach.
“Restorative justice… is really what we as Catholic organizations, Catholic parishes, Catholic institutions all ought to be about,” said Fr. Kelly. “It's the Gospel message of reconciliation…”
Episode 2 of Encounters With Dignity features Christina Swarns, defense attorney and executive director of the Innocence Project, and Sheryl Wilson, victim outreach specialist and executive director of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Together, Christina and Sheryl tell the story of how restorative approaches were used in Buck v. Davis, a death penalty case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“What we decided to do was engage with a defense initiated victim outreach specialist,” said Swarns, who defended Duane Buck in the case. “That is a person who works with a defense team to build a bridge and build a line of communication to the families of the surviving victims or the survivors of violence.”
“It was just amazing that there was a way that we could respond restoratively in this circumstance,” noted Wilson.
The voices showcased on Encounters With Dignity originate from a national, virtual restorative justice conference hosted by CMN in October 2020. Episode 3 launches this March and will feature Ernie Garcia, a former participant and current member of the Alumni Advisory Committee of Rise Up Industries, an 18-month prisoner reentry program in Santee, California.
Catholic Mobilizing Network is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices.
CMN works in close collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and lives the Spirit of Unity of its sponsor, the Congregation of St. Joseph.