Catholic Church Laments Restoratively

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church near downtown Minneapolis has embraced the values and practices of restorative justice, and with the leadership of Fr. Daniel Griffith, the church is promoting restorative healing work to go both inward and outward. In the wake of the tragic killing in Minneapolis, the church is able to collectively lament in solidarity with people beyond their walls, partly due to their own history of grieving and healing within their walls.

Church websites are generally not known for having the phrase restorative justice sprinkled throughout their webpages. Our Lady of Lourdes’ site, however, is a rare exception and even has the term positioned as a prominent homepage link above the menu bar.

In a recent blog message to parishioners that lamented the death of George Floyd (May 29, 2020), Fr. Griffith expressed his wishes for extending restorative supports outwardly. “I sincerely hope that Our Lady of Lourdes can play a role in initiating and/or supporting this community-wide dialogue” in Minneapolis.

In a more recent letter (“In a Time of Heavy Sadness: What Can Catholics Do?”) Fr. Griffith writes:

I see a clear role for restorative practices which can provide a forum for people of color to tell their stories – stories that similarly include injustice and harm. Some may say, you are inviting or creating a culture of victimization. No, this act of accompanying another as they seek greater justice and respect is human, Christian and simply the only way to true transformation, healing and reconciliation.

It is not surprising to learn that the readiness of this church to serve, and its quick responsiveness to local harm, is directly related to the church’s own corporate inner journey of healing. For the past several years, parishioners have participated in a carefully guided restorative process to heal the harms of past clergy sex abuse.  It makes perfect sense, according to the well-known phrase from Henri Nouwen’s book, for them to be Wounded Healers for others who are more recently wounded. Having experienced the power of healing dialogue, they are in a stronger place of empowerment to facilitate the healing of others. This is a beautiful example of the biblical pattern of Vulnerability coinciding with Responsibility. The result of this, of course, is a justice that gives more life rather than giving more death.

For more information about Catholic church resources that are responding to clergy sex abuse with restorative healing processes, view a listing on the lower part of this webpage on the Lady of Lourdes site.

Photo: Healing spring water from Lourdes, France.

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