How ought we respond as a faith community when one life offends another?
There are many ways to respond but what is the model that Christ gave us? Jesus rebukes the “eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth” retributive justice in Matthew’s gospel. He tells us, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:38-48).
The question that arises out of this pericope (bible passage) is what kind of justice do we want? Restorative Justice is, perhaps the best answer we have for this at the moment. Restorative Justice recognized that when serious crime happens, there are victims, one of them is very often also the offender. Restorative Justice is defined by our Canadian government "as an approach to justice that focuses on addressing the harm caused by crime while holding the offender responsible for their actions by providing an opportunity for the parties directly affected by the crime – victims, offenders and communities – to identify and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime." (Cite: Department of Justice).
Here in the Archdiocese of Regina, we have two main programmes that we support:
Circles of Support and Accountability are being developed for high-risk offenders who have served their sentences and are returning to the community. Presently, there are 13 circles operating in Regina and the surrounding area.
A high-risk person returning to the community from prison can request that a circle be formed for him or her in the community. At the outset, an agreement or covenant is signed by the core member (the person returning from prison) and the group of persons in the circle. It outlines the expectations and responsibilities of the core member and the other members. There are generally four to seven persons in one Circle; Circles have been found to have a profound effect on successful integration into the community. For more information about How CoSA works, Programmes, Statistics, Support, and Getting Involved please check out the CoSA South Saskatchewan Website
Friends on the Outside is a support system for previously incarcerated men and women to grow in friendship, self-respect, and spirituality. We achieve this by promoting the dignity of all people regardless of past sins, race, creed, or anything else. This is a place where Christ is met in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in a very real and tangible way.
If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about the work we do please contact
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/social-justice/restorative-justice