Restorative justice invites us to cultivate moral imagination, to watch vigilantly for creative ways to heal pain caused by violence and build spaces for transformative encounter to take place. Fr. Paul Morrissey shares how he did this in an unlikely corner of Philadelphia. His reflection on events of the past reminds us of our nation's ongoing struggles for racial justice today.
Restorative justice is a way of understanding crime, and harm in all of its forms, as a violation of people and relationships rather than solely a violation of law. When harm occurs, there are far-reaching impacts: emotional, spiritual, physical, and material. Restorative practices seek to address such impacts through transformative encounter, authentic accountability, and intentional amends in order to foster rehabilitation, repair relationships, and restore those impacted to a place of safety and healing.
Beyond the criminal justice system, there are countless opportunities use restorative practices in personal and parish life and within our communities.
Catholic Mobilizing Network and Restorative Justice
Restorative justice has been at the heart of CMN’s mission since the organization’s inception because of its relationship with families who are directly affected by the death penalty. Their stories give profound testament to the transformative power of restorative practices as a path to mercy and forgiveness. Furthermore, CMN believes strongly that when speaking out against crime and capital punishment, we must be sensitive to the needs of all those impacted. CMN seeks to advance the Church’s prophetic message of responsibility, rehabilitation, and restoration in the area of criminal justice and other incidents of harm.
Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty
The death penalty is the most extreme example of retribution in the US criminal justice system. Yet, it is only the tip of the iceberg in responses to crime that violate the Church’s pro-life teaching on the inherent dignity of the human person. Our Catholic faith believes that each person is created in the image and likeness of God and therefore calls us to continually seek reconciliation and forgiveness. The Church teaches that in responding to crime, we must take a restorative approach that honors the human dignity of the victim, offender, and community impacted.
How CMN Promotes Restorative Justice
CMN seeks to elevate restorative justice in the national consciousness of the Catholic Church. Through dynamic resources and spiritual formation, Catholics will be equipped to educate, advocate, and pray for restorative change. Because of CMN’s current involvement in the criminal justice system and call to restorative justice, we support faith-filled engagement that attends to the needs of victims of crime, reduces rates of incarceration, creates humane and rehabilitative environments for those who are in prison, and empowers communities in preventing and responding to crime.