"How does God call me to be in relationship with my family, my community, and society?" This is the question that we must continually ask ourselves. The life of Jesus and our Catholic faith offer beautiful examples and deep wisdom about justice, mercy, and reconciliation. Catholic Social Teaching helps to make these teachings relevant in our time. Restorative justice offers us a lens through which to interpret these teachings in our daily lives and interactions. It has long been a part of CMN’s mission to promote restorative justice. With the publication of our forthcoming book Redemption and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Restorative Justice, we now live into this call in even more active and transformational ways.
Restorative justice contends that harm, in any form, is a violation of human relationship and that in order to repair that relationship, we must do what is necessary to address the impacts (spiritual, emotional, material...) that come about as a result of that harm. This means entering into compassionate encounter and holding ourselves and one another accountable when harm occurs. Furthermore, this is to be done with humility, mercy and love. As Catholics, we know that to be Christ for one another is to honor the human dignity of all, even those who have hurt us or someone we love.
At CMN, we hear powerful testament to this practice as murder victim's family members embark upon unique journeys toward reconciliation and healing. Simultaneously, we witness the power of transformation in inmates who take ownership of their actions and seek to make amends with those they have harmed.
These accounts come to mind because of our passionate commitment to ending the death penalty, but we know that countless similar testimonies are present in other realms of the criminal justice system, our parish communities, and our personal lives. Because, while crime is a specific classification of wrongdoing against the state, harm and conflict are inherent to all human relationship. We are all broken, but we are all worthy of redemption. “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
In the time to come, you will hear more from CMN about restorative justice and what you can do to promote it in our hurting world. In the meantime, may we each seek ways to live restoratively with one another.