Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity, according to its very notion, causes peace. –Thomas Acquinas, Summa Theologica
Catholic Social Teaching
Rooted in both scripture and the rich tradition of Catholic faith, Catholic Social Teaching is a guide for how to live as a people of justice and mercy. Catholic Social Teaching brings the teachings of Jesus and his call to discipleship to the larger societal conversation of social justice.
Catholic Social Teaching has 7 major themes: Dignity of the Human Person; Call to Family, Community, and Participation; Rights and Responsibilities; Preferential Option for and with People who are Poor; Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers; Solidarity; Care for God’s Creation.
Overall, restorative justice responds to harm in a spirit of solidarity—that is, by “seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters”(Pope Francis, 2013). Restorative justice sees people not as victims or offenders needing pity or punishment, but rather as people whose lives have intersected through harmful behavior and who need that harm healed and integrated. (Source, Susan Sharpe, CMN webpage)
Catholic Social Teaching is rooted the biblical writings, including the message of the Hebrew prophets who announced God’s special love for the poor and called God’s people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came “to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind”(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with “the least of these,” the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). (Source: USCCB Catholic Bishops webpage)
Catholic Mobilizing Network
One of the main organizations to promote Catholic Social Teaching in today’s world is Catholic Mobilizing Network, based in Washington, D. C.
CMN’s Mission Statement
Catholic Mobilizing Network is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the use of the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices. Through education, advocacy, and prayer, and based on the Gospel value that every human is created in the image and likeness of God, CMN expresses the fundamental belief that all those who have caused or been impacted by crime should be treated with dignity.
About CMN’s Restorative Justice Work
CMN promotes restorative justice through resources and events that educate Catholics on restorative justice, train Catholics in restorative practices, and build networks of individuals and communities that work to uphold healing forms of justice. CMN offers materials to encourage the implementation of restorative practices at the level of the individual, the parish, and the justice system, and works with diocesan leadership, religious orders, community and parish-based ministries throughout the country.
- RJ & CST Webpage: Explores how restorative justice approaches align with Catholic social teaching.
- Harm, Healing, and Human Dignity: A Catholic Encounter with Restorative Justice: This faith formation resource to help parishes, small groups, and individual believers reflect on the Catholic call to restorative justice.
- Paths of Renewed Encounter: A Restorative Justice Engagement Guide for Catholic Communities: Paths of Renewed Encounter invites individuals and groups to embrace healing approaches to crime, harm, and injustice while reflecting on the unique ways that Catholic ministries and teachings can shepherd processes that transform relationships, communities, and systems.
- Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice: This pastoral statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “[a]rticulate[s] … the Church’s understanding that in responding to crime, we must take a restorative approach that honors the human dignity of the victim, offender, and community impacted”
- Synodality related pieces (webinars)
- Featured blog posts (linked the blog with the search “restorative justice”)
- RJ Ministry Community of Practice: “CMN’s “RJ Ministry Community of Practice” is a virtual network of ministry leaders who seek to connect with one another, deepen their knowledge of restorative justice, and build skills for bringing restorative practices to their institutions, ministries, and civic life.”
- Encounters with Dignity Podcast A podcast bringing you stories, learnings, and actionable wisdom from people who are doing and living restorative justice.
Other Catholic Based Organizations
- Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition: The place to go for Catholic ministry serving people affected by incarceration.
- The Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing at the University of St. Thomas School of Law “teach[es] law students, and the broader legal community, how to utilize restorative justice practices within our courts and communities to facilitate healing, build bridges and bring about a more just and inclusive society.”
- University of San Diego Center for Restorative Justice prepares the next generation of diverse leaders and provides research, academic coursework, RJ training, and consultation for needs and projects within and beyond higher education.”
- Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation: Restoring communities through radical hospitality, hope, & healing.
Fr Daniel Griffith Homily on Restorative Justice (Youtube video). Introduction to RJ but also related to and clergy sex abuse.
Article by Daniel Philpott (Dec 2022) on how “Catholics need a restorative justice approach to the church’s sexual abuse crisis”
Judge Janine Geske (Youtube video) talks about facilitating restorative justice circle processes.
An online listing of Catholic documents promoting restorative justice. And Catholic Social Teachings on Restorative Justice – 2009– by Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B., Bishop of Las Cruces