Peace-shalom, Love-agape, Forgiveness, Confession, Atonement, Repentance and Trust are key words in the Peacemaking Model. They are all words that are used in the faith and secular worlds and with a variety of meanings. What I will do in this article is to use stories and teachings from my faith tradition, to help clarify my understanding of each.
It is time to re-evaluate what it is we need for true justice to flow throughout this land. We are called by God to be the stewards of creation, to protect the land and enhance the dignity of all its people. Crime traditionally escalates most where social injustice prevails. There remains much social injustice in New Zealand. In particular, there is a desperate need to provide affordable housing, adequate benefits, good health care and more employment. Deprivation in these areas forms a type of structural violence against the poor who are often left inadequately fed and in poor health, with little by way of shelter, money or hope. These are all areas the government should tackle as a priority.
Restorative justice has been emerging within the justice systems of a number of countries in the last decade. The key element of restorative justice, he asserts, is the pursuit of justice practices that, as far as possible, rebuild relationships broken by crime rather than damage them further. On this basis, Sarre explores religious roots or connections of restorative justice in historical terms. Additionally he develops some of the possibilities for churches in seeking to enhance restorative justice principles.
This pastoral statement by the bishops of the Louisiana Catholic Conference is intended to inspire mercy in the administration of justice, particularly in Louisiana. In many ways, it stems from and extends a recent pastoral statement of the United States Catholic bishops on criminal justice: Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Punishment. This statement from the Louisiana bishops discusses the situation with respect to crime and punishment in Louisiana, restorative justice, restorative justice and capital punishment, certain proposals toward a restorative public policy, and the church’s role in restorative justice.
While the Church may not explicitly teach much on restorative justice, when it has spoken, it has been clear and forceful, such as the United States Bishops’ statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration, A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, approved by the full body of bishops at the Fall Assembly, November, 2000. This document has become a Magna Charta for many involved in the process of bringing about healing to all those touched by crime and its consequences.