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Faith Communities and Restorative Justice

Faith communities are touched by restorative thinking and practice in a number of ways. They may use restorative processes to resolve their own conflicts. Their members may be victims, offenders and/or family members of both. They may seek to influence their communities to support restorative programmes. They may sponsor, or their members may participate in, those programmes. And they may advocate for systemic change to make restorative justice a more prominent part of their community's response to crime. Or they may do none of those things. The following articles consider the challenging and sometimes complicated relationship between faith communities and restorative justice.

Good to see this eventually become a part of the conversation
Thanks Robert for bringing this aspect to the fore. It is long overdue. I commend the work you have done here. There appears in many [...]
restorative justice and clergy abuse in the Catholic Church
Thank you for posting this. I think there are useful steps here in this list of recommendations that could contribute to the healing of victims [...]
Helping victims of clergy sexual abuse: Suggestions for Pope Benedict XVI:
from Robert M. Hoatson's post on Road to Recovery: Based on Road to Recovery’s on-the-ground experience helping the abused cope with the effects of their abuse, we offer to Pope Benedict and his colleagues in the hierarchy the following suggested action steps that will help restore clergy abuse victims to fullness of life (these steps do not preclude the necessary and/or statutory reporting of all crimes to local and/or national law enforcement):
Religion, conflict & peacebuilding: An introductory programming guide
from the introduction to the toolkit by USAID: Connecting religion and violent conflict is easy to do. Many of the world’s violent outbreaks, both present and past, are couched in religious terms, ranging from the 1st century Jewish-Roman War, to the 11th century Crusades, to 17th century Thirty Years War to the 20th century Irish civil war to contemporary conflicts in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Iraq, and Israel/West Bank/Gaza. Connecting religion and peacebuilding is equally easy to do. Human history includes many examples where the religiously motivated acted in extraordinary ways to bridge divides, promote reconciliation, or advocate peaceful coexistence. It thus becomes clear that understanding the dynamics of conflict—both the sources of discord and the forces of resilience—requires an understanding of the connections between conflict, religion and peacebuilding. And yet sensitivities and uncertainties surrounding the mere mention of religion frequently stand in the way of that understanding.
Peace Studies programmes
from the entry on PCPJ Blog: Michael Westmoreland-White compiled this.... As a service, I thought I would list all the U.S. colleges and universities that have programs with names like “peace studies,” “peace and global studies,” “peacebuilding and conflict resolution studies,” etc. I found there were enough that I decided just to list the church-related ones and do the others in a separate post. Typically, such programs are multi-disciplinary involving faculty from several departments including international studies, history, philosophy, religious studies, international law, economic development, and/or political science or sociology. The earliest such programs in the U.S. were in institutions related to the “historic peace churches” (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Friends/Quakers), but it has spread beyond them.
Feb 7, 2010: National day of prayer for criminal justice reform
Encourage your church to participate in the National Day of Prayer for Criminal Justice Reform and contact Bill Mefford for more information. Churches throughout the United States will spend either part or all of their prayer time during their Sunday worship services on Feburary 7th to focus on criminal justice reform. Specifically they will lift up the need for a fair criminal justice system based on restorative principles that do not sentence people to unjustly long sentences or target certain racial groups, so that the families of the incarcerated can be strengthened and local communicates safely restored.
Why is it important for people of faith to be involved in domestic violence work?
from the Renewal House blog entry: A reporter from the Boston Herald asked me that question yesterday afternoon. The reporter is working on an article highlighting the Restorer’s Ministry, a new hotline led by three women from the Grace of All Nations Church in Dorchester. We have been supporting the training needs of the three as they seek to live out their call to serving individuals and families struggling with issues of domestic violence in their community.
'They are not scum'
A Pilot Study of a faith-based restorative justice intervention for Christian and non-Christian offenders
from the journal article by Armour, Windsor, Aguilar, and Taub in Journal of Psychology and Christianity: Restorative justice and faith-based programs are receiving increased attention as innovative ways to help change offenders' internal motivations as well as external behaviors (Rockefeller institute of Government, 2007). The purpose of the present pilot study is to examine change in offenders' pro-social responses after participation in an in-prison faith-based program that draws from the principles of restorative justice.
Servant leadership, restorative justice and forgiveness
from Shere McClamb's blog The Webmaster's Corner: The terms of servant-leadership, restorative justice, and forgiveness depend on one another, they are all interdependent but not interchangeable. To be a Servant Leader one must believe that justice must be restorative, and must have the capacity to forgive those who trespass against others. Being a servant to those you serve is paramount to evolving into a servant leader. Restorative justice requires the capacity for forgiveness on levels only those who choose to serve their fellow man can embrace.
A justice that reconciles -- new study guide from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
NZ Catholic Bishops call for reconciliation, not revenge, in prisons
Lord, Mary. Can love really overcome violence and hate? Reflections on Friends peace testimony.
At the time of this speech, Mary Lord was beginning to serve as the Interim Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace Building Unit. Speaking some months after deadly terrorist attacks against targets in the United States (on September 11, 2001), Lord addresses issues of violence, hate, terrorism, war, and love. She expresses fear that, in the wake of the attacks and the U.S. response to them, a new global war may be imminent. This leads to her reflections on a number of issues: the U.S. decision to respond with military force rather than international law and policing; the question whether war works; faith in violence; faith in God; and peace-building actions Quakers can take in the midst of violence and hate.
Northey, Wayne. Spirituality Evaluation of Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice in North America, birthplace of its contemporary worldwide expression in criminal justice systems, grew out of a religious community, specifically in the mid-seventies in the Mennonite community of Kitchener, Canada, as an explicit response to a religious problem. No culture exists without religious foundation, claims anthropologist Rene Girard. If, as Girard continues to explain in an expansive theory of the genealogy of violence, a "scapegoat mechanism" is generated by religion to address the problem of violence, by which sacrificial victims are immolated to restore peace and social cohesion, then religion just may be the source of the corrective to universal scapegoating violence as well. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University,
Misleh, Daniel J and Hanneman, Evelyn U. Emerging Issues: The Faith Communities and the Criminal Justice System
Restorative Justice is coming into focus for many faith communities as an important shift in response to crime. This paper examines the history of our response to crime and describes the response of a number of faith communities. Extended treatment is given to the November 2000 statement by the United States Catholic Bishops, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice. Their approach to crime and criminal justice is reviewed, including a special emphasis on the Catholic Church’s teaching on the option for the poor and includes policy recommendations for church and society. Examples of activity at the local, state and national levels are given. The paper documents some effects of the bishops’ statement on community and legislative activity at the local, state and national levels. Author’s abstract.
General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. Resolution A243 Restorative Justice.
BE IT RESOLVED that this General Synod: 1. Affirm the principles of restorative justice which include: a)healing and reconciliation as opposed to punishment; b)accountability and responsibility as opposed to degradation and humiliation; c) taking seriously the needs of both victims and offenders; and d)building safer communities. (excerpt)
JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation. Just Resolution and Restorative Justice Principles: Understanding the Changes to the Complaint Procedure in the Discipline.
A review of a violation of the sacred trust of ordination and membership in an annual conference “shall have as its primary purpose a just resolution of any violations of this sacred trust, in the hope that God’s work of justice, reconciliation and healing may be realized in the body of Christ”. As of the General Conference in 2004, just resolution has been defined by using the principles of restorative justice. “A just resolution is one that focuses on repairing any harm to people and communities, achieving real accountability by making things right in so far as possible and bringing healing to all the parties.” (excerpt)
JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation. Engage Conflict Well: Training Workshop for Conflict Transformation Teams.
This document provides a notes for a training workshop in conflict transformation for churches.
Anonymous. Four Terms that Stand Together: Reconciliation -- Forgiveness -- Restorative Justice -- the Church
Building cultures of reconciliation implies a process. It begins with recognizing the origins of conflict. It often means learning to see the structural violence that lies just beyond the horizon of our own interests – and learning to deal with practices and attitudes that contribute to conflict rather than mutuality. Social conflict is inherent in human relations and is manifest and internal to the persons and parties involved. It is that which reveals difference. Conflict can escalate and eventuate in a variety of outcomes, some of which are destructive. Some can contribute to reconciliation and mutual well being. This does not imply agreement, although it may. Indeed, difference can enrich as well as enflame. Building cultures of reconciliation means developing proactive attitudes and practices that make community possible. (excerpt)
Driedger, Otto. Faith Communities Respond to Restorative Justice
While Otto Driedger refers to faith communities "responding" to restorative justice, he contends that they really are not "responding." Rather, faith communities actually gave rise to the modern restorative justice movement. From this perspective, Driedger goes on to point out ways in which churches are involved in applying restorative ideas and practices to crime victims, offenders, and communities. In particular he highlights victim assistance by the Mennonite Central Committee, a video by the Presbyterian Church USA on restorative responses to vandalism and other crimes, a victim offender reconciliation program run by Community Justice Initiatives in British Columbia, community-based chaplaincies for offenders on re-entry, and other church-based structures for accountability and support for ex-offenders.

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