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A review of faith based restorative justice in the Catholic Church

McDermott, Debbie
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Paper presented at “New Frontiers in Restorative Justice: Advancing Theory and Practice”, Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University at Albany, New Zealand, 2-5 December.

This paper will offer a view of faith based restorative justice by the Catholic Church, a review of the US Bishops statement; our experiences in setting up our Symposium; and the outcomes of that event.

On March 15, 2003 two thousand people braved record rain storms to attend our Symposium at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. They came to explore how the common good intersects with crime and punishment in California. They were victims of crime, law enforcement custodial staff, administrative staff and parole officers, attorneys, judges, prison chaplains and volunteers, former offenders, families of the incarcerated and people looking for answers and for hope. The goal of our Symposium was to move public opinion and create a political climate more amenable to restorative justice in line with a Catholic vision presented in the statement of our U.S. Catholic Bishops, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration.

To accomplish this we offered eleven keynote presentations and seventy-five workshops in English and Spanish plus a special track for youth. We covered every topic possible, from the story of a victim family member, to the story of a warden and the death penalty, to a presentation on how restorative justice promotes public safety by the former director of the California Department of Corrections; to a presentation by the current State Secretary for Youth and Adult Corrections on living out your faith while working in a correctional setting. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,


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