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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.

Headley, William. Catholic Relief Services' Contribution to International Peacemaking.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is no stranger to war. It came into existence because of conflict. The year was 1943. It was the end of World War II. The Catholic Church in the United States wanted to aid in the relief of war-ravaged Europe. CRS, then called War Relief Service, a part of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, was the United States Catholic institutional response. (extract)
Bartoli, Andrea. Catholic Peacemaking: the experience of the Community of Sant Egidio.
The Community has been instrumental in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mozambique and was able to facilitate dialogue among relevant actors in conflicted countries such as Albania, Algeria, Burundi, Guatemala and Kosovo allowing parties to sign agreements. It was also briefly called to facilitate the Debate National in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but the project never saw full light. While its peacemaking activities never reached the climax of the peace process in Mozambique, the Community of Santxe2x80x99Egidio has continued to dedicate its self to peace work. So we ask ourselves tonight: how Catholic is Sant Egidio peacemaking? And what can we learn from Sant Egidio about Catholic peacemaking in general? (extract)
Zarembka, David. Healing from Slavery, War, and Genocide: Lessons from John Woolman and Friends in Rwanda and Burundi
Zarembka explains that Christians ought to live restoratively, using as his example the work of the Quakers in Rwanda who have actively worked to restore the country in the wake of its terrible genocide. He illustrates his points with stories of people who were affected by the violence in Rwanda, both Hutus and Tutsis.
de Gruchy, John W. The Chastening of the English-Speaking Churches in South Africa
De Gruchy implicates the English-speaking churches of South Africa in their complicity during the reign of apartheid. He defines the term "English-speaking churches" as "primarily an ethnic description rather than a theological or ecclesiastical one, and one that refers especially to them during a specific historic period." He describes his work to chasten as a biblically-based attempt to pronounce judgment with the invitation to correction. De Gruchy continues by describing how the English-speaking churches lost their political status over time, their ethnic dominance as run by the privileged white, and their moral innocence as their claim to be anti-apartheid was insufficient in the face of actual reform. De Gruchy ends with the positive effects all these losses can have in the construction of a new society.
Greenwood, Jean. Points to remember: engaging faith communities in restorative justice
Many of us assume that communities of faith will resonate quite naturally with the principles and applications of restorative justice. Concepts of reconciliation, peacemaking, healing, forgiveness, relationship and community building, so fundamental to restorative justice, also echo the values that undergird many faith communities. Similarly for people of faith seeking to live out their faith in concrete ways, involvement in restorative justice would seem a perfect fit. It is, therefore, puzzling that more faith communities have not caught the excitement and stepped forward to embrace restorative justice work. Has the word not gotten out? Have we failed to communicate effectively with communities of faith? What can we do to reach this population, in order to benefit our work and the life of those communities as well? (excerpt)
O'Neill, William. Anamnestic Solidarity: Immigration from the Perspective of Restorative Justice.
Restorative justice has emerged as a “moral squint” in modern Catholic social teaching. In section (i) of his paper, O’Neill explored the Catholic interpretation of restorative justice against the backdrop of rival communitarian and liberal conceptions. In section (ii), he turned to the implications of the Church’s teaching on restorative justice for undocumented immigrants in a religiously pluralist polity like our own. He concluded (iii) with the distinctive role played by citizens of faith in pursuing restorative justice for undocumented migrants. For like the Good Samaritan, Christians are charged to “go and do likewise” (Lk. 10: 37), i.e., to “see and have compassion” (Lk. 10:33) in “anamnestic solidarity” with the stranger. Whereas in the US, restorative justice comprises various forms of victim-offender mediation in the criminal justice system; in South Africa and Rwanda, restorative justice, in Desmond Tutu’s words, addresses “the healing of breaches, the redressing of imbalances, the restoration of broken relationships” between peoples. The detention, deportation, and incarceration of undocumented migrants in the US raise questions germane to both interpretations of restorative justice. (excerpt)
Lundberg, Matthew D.. Repentance as a paradigm for Christian mission.
As a key paradigm for understanding and practicing mission, the theme of reconciliation has been emerging with greater prominence over the past couple of decades. (14) Reconciliation, in this sense, means an extension of the renewed relationship between God and humanity to the conflicts and problems of human society. (15) It is a matter of the reconciliation wrought through the grace of Jesus Christ that flows into the world's situations of violence and pain, making possible new relationships and humanizing structures. William R. Burrows reminds us that reconciliation is actually an ancient paradigm for mission that is receiving much-needed renewal today since it improves significantly upon the de facto images of "conversion" and "expansion" that characterized most mission efforts during the past five centuries--centuries that overlap, significantly, with the age of conquest, colonization, and varied forms of imperialism. (16) As a form of Christian witness, cultivating reconciliation in the world is a way in which the church points back to the pivotal act of reconciliation through Christ's cross and resurrection, as well as pointing forward to and preparing for the cosmic reconciliation that God has promised in Jesus Christ. (17) (excerpt)
Umfreville, Dave. The Real World of Restorative Justice Ministry.
This book will look at several facets of restorative justice ministry in the correctional environment. I have come to the conclusion, now after 25 years in prison, jail and juvenile ministry, the need is to recognize what we are dealing with in truly reducing recidivism and being redemptive. Restorative Justice ministry covers the entire range of those touched by the criminal justice system: inmates, staff, victims, and their respective family members. The judicial process needs to be involved also if we are truly to make a lasting impact. First, this book will examine three main areas of concern, break down the specific fields, and model timeless principles from ministries and professionals that actually work in the real world. Second, we will discuss what we can do now in improving conditions inside and out of corrections to the glory of God. Third, we will explore the future of the challenging arena of restorative justice ministry. (excerpt)
Gopin, Marc. New Paths in Spirituality and Peacemaking
"I would like to conclude by submitting that each religious tradition has within it a certain kind of genius in its history of ritual and ethics as a way of reaching out to the hearts of other human beings. The key challenge is how to take that genius and move it towards reaching out to people who are well beyond the boundaries of a traditional group, strangers who have never been part of the ethical calculus of that religious tradition. That is the key shift hermeneutically and spiritually, and it is a tough shift for most conservative traditions, both East and West. You risk becoming inauthentic in your religious tradition as you venture beyond the boundaries and experience of previous generations of interpreters. But this is precisely what authentic students of religious traditions have to work on in concert with peace activists. We need authentic moves of the religious tradition which are also strategically and politically effective in challenging destructive ethnic, political and military wars around the world. Each religious tradition needs to rise to this unprecedented challenge, each on its own terms, but in such a way that it allows its practitioners to cross over a bridge to longtime enemies or long-lost brothers and sisters in faith." (Abstract)
Powers, Gerard F. and Schreiter, Robert J. and Appleby, R. Scott. Peacebuilding: Catholic theology, ethics and praxis.
In this volume, leading Catholic theologians, scholar-practitioners, and ethicists take up the challenge of developing a conceptually coherent, theologically accurate, spiritually enlivening, and practically effective approach to Catholic peacebuilding that can complement the rich Catholic teaching on the ethics of war. These original essays examine the role of Catholic peacebuilders in preventing and resolving conflicts, and reconciling divided societies from Colombia and the Philippines to Indonesia and South Africa. THey also consider how this work for peace can inform and be enriched by deeper reflection on the peacebuilding dimensions of social teaching, theology, sacraments, interreligious dialogue and the Church's mission. (publisher's description)
Hadley, Michael L.. Spiritual Foundations of restorative justice
This is the context in which faith traditions play a major role in restorative justice and in the process of restoration. More than any other spiritual culture, they have committed themselves to a covenant of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. This holds true no matter how far individual sects or denominations may have veered from original principles: accountability, repentance (or radical change of direction, forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation. Too often, religious traditions themselves have undervalued – even undermined and distorted – their own transforming wisdom. Where they could have served as a means of grace, they have all too frequently sided with the dominant power-political interests of the political state. Where they might have promoted peace with a transformative and healing justice, they have insisted on Law and Order. Primarily because of this negative legacy, many observers tend to prefer the term ‘spirituality’ when discussing current religious experience or when seeking the life-enhancing truths of religious tradition. (excerpt)
Thiessen, Carol. History of the MCC Canada Victim Offender Ministries
This document provides a brief overview of the development of victim offender ministries by the Mennonite Central Committee in Canada.
. Communion in diversity? Exploring a practical theology of reconciliation among Cuban exciles.
This dissertation articulates a practical theology of reconciliation for, with, and by Cuban Catholic exiles through the development of a faith-based structured process of reconciliation—the Circles of Reconciliation—that addresses personal reconciliation as the basis for social reconciliation. The Circles of Reconciliation draw on sources of the Christian tradition in dialogue with the empirical sciences and Cuban culture. The Circles provide the space to advance a praxis of reconciliation among Cuban exiles. The reflection that emanates from this process is the basis for the concluding insights on a theology and an ethics of reconciliation for this community. (author's abstract)
Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual & Religious Care. Spiritual roots of restorative justice: A collection of faith community perspectives
In 1998 the Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care (OMCSRC) added restorative justice to its agenda. In view of growing interest in and implementation of restorative justice locally and internationally, OMSCRC urged its member faith groups to rediscover and express their views on restorative justice in light of their particular beliefs and practices. Accordingly, representatives from the following groups submitted short essays on restorative justice from their spiritual or religious perspectives: Baha’i, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, and Native culture. Additionally, the anthology includes short articles on fundamental principles of restorative justice, and on paradigms of justice. A bibliography at the end provides directions for further study.
Pace, Lynn and Edling, David V. Preventive law within the faith community
Edling and Pace write about conflict resolution in light of Biblical principles, practices, and history. Hence, they focus on Biblical conflict resolution, also known as Biblical peacemaking or Christian conciliation, and they connect these practices with the growing field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Such peacemaking or conciliation is a preventive law mechanism, uniquely suited to people and organizations within the Christian faith community. With all of this in mind, Edling and Pace, both with Peacemaker Ministries, describe the work of that organization in conducting conciliation in cases of conflict and in training attorneys and others in conciliation principles and practices.
Hadley, Michael L.. The spiritual roots of restorative justice
This book consists of a set of papers examining religious and philosophical foundations for restorative justice. The papers grew out of the "Spiritual Roots" project, an interdisciplinary and international research project to explore multi-faith perspectives on crime and punishment, especially the traditional roots of those perspectives and how those roots relate to key ideas and practices of restorative justice. The perspectives examined come from a number of religious and philosophical traditions: aboriginal religion; Buddhism; Chinese philosophy and religion; Christianity; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; and Sikhism. The distinctiveness of each tradition is respected, while their fundamental contributions to criminal justice issues are recognized. The collection also contains a substantial introduction by the editor to multi-faith reflection on criminal justice, a paper on philosophical theories of criminal punishment, and an epilogue describing specific instances where restorative practices were employed in aboriginal cases in Canada. Authors include academics and practitioners in the criminal justice sphere. The project and the book constitute a significant contribution to the exploration of religious dimensions in the formation of criminal justice ideas, perspectives, and practices.
Kaijun Geng and Hui, Edwin C. "The spirit and practice of restorative justice in Chinese culture."
The authors survey the major schools of Chinese philosophy and religion- Confucianism, Taoism, and Moism -to demonstrate foundations for the spirit and practice of restorative justice in Chinese culture. In Confucian thought the principles of ren and li provide restorative foundations. Ren was used by Confucius as a relational concept indicating virtue in human relationships. Li referred to the set of rules fulfilling ren through propriety, affection, righteousness, and faithfulness. Crime defiles human nature or virtue (ren) and violates proper social relationships (li). Response to crime should aim for restoration of ren and li. In Taoist thought, the ideas of nature, action, and non-action provide restorative foundations. The Tao (the way, or the road, involving a simple and natural harmony) inheres in the cosmos, human nature, and human society. Crime then is deviance from or opposition to the natural Tao. Response to crime should involve restoration to a natural or original state for the individuals and relationships affected. In Moist thought, the emphases on universal love and social welfare provide restorative foundations. Mozi taught that social conflict (such as crime and war) exists because everyone loves himself or herself more than he or she loves others. The answer to evil then consists in universal love and mutual benevolence, in accord with the will of Heaven. In general then, in Chinese tradition, despite certain differences in philosophical and religious ideas, concepts of justice (yi) and punishment emphasize a virtue ethic, or substantive ethic, distinct from what the authors see as the abstract impartiality or formal justice of Western perspectives.
Hadley, Michael L.. "Introduction: Multifaith reflection on criminal justice."
In this substantial introduction to multifaith reflection on criminal justice, Hadley notes that, except for specialized Christian studies, the relationship between spirituality and criminal justice has been largely overlooked in current scholarly and popular accounts of restorative justice. Yet, he argues, there are compelling reasons to examine the relationships between religion and law and between crime and punishment. Through such an examination, he maintains, the basis can be laid for recommendations on the implementation of restorative principles in pluralistic, multicultural societies. Hadley acknowledges this effort runs contrary to the secularizing tendencies in modern societies to relegate religion to the purely private and personal sphere, walled off from influence on public life. In reality, this leads to secularism as the dominant faith. Hadley counters by stating that public policies must take the role of religion in criminal justice seriously. Specifically, he argues for restorative justice, with its spiritual roots and values, as a more morally and emotionally satisfying and effective model for criminal justice than the current state-centered, retributive model.
Helmick, Raymond G. "Does religion fuel or heal in conflicts? "
Is religion a resource or a problem for resolution of conflicts? Helmick acknowledges that religion has been used for political purposes in conflicts, and that many see religion as basically a negative force in situations of conflict. With respect to Christianity, Helmick traces the use of religion for political purposes to the Constantinian arrangement: church and state as parallel institutions, reflective of one another, within a political or national entity. Helmick calls this the paradigmatic role of the Church. As the Constantinian model eventually fractured in much of the West, a related model developed as the Church sought control over key aspects of culture (marriage, education, caring institutions, and so on). Helmick terms this the pragmatic role of the Church. As this role fades, Helmick posits a parabolic role of the Church: a community of active faith where its presence influences, in organic and pervasive ways, the free corporate decisions of society. In this potential role Helmick suggests hope for the Church as a resource for reconciliation, not division and violence, in conflict.
Roger Rizzo and Johnston, Kellie and Gus Camelino. A return to 'traditional' dispute resolution: An examination of religious dispute resolution systems
Observing that we live in a litigious society with an adjudicative system marked by an adversarial character, the authors argue that alternative dispute resolution should become the standard, such that it is not "alternative" but normal. Toward this end, they investigate the religious foundations that undergird many alternative dispute resolution systems. This begins with a look at the Jewish dispute resolution system, based in Jewish law. Next authors turn to the Islamic tradition, particularly Ismaili dispute resolution (Ismaili Muslims constitute a subset of the Muslim faith). Then they focus on Christian foundations as found in the United Church of Canada’s dispute resolution policy.

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