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  • All of us, whether victims of crime, offenders, employees in the criminal justice system, family

    members or neighbours, are called to find paths to a justice system which reconciles; which

    rejects attitudes of revenge; which helps victims to heal and offenders to turn their life around.

    It is the only true path to the security and safety that our society longs for.

    New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Revenge or Reconciliation, 2009

    Ideas for teacher professional development

    Learning outcomes

    Learners will:

    reflect on the notion of justice and the links to Catholic social teachingexamine different notions of justice including Western, Mori and Biblical justiceconsider attributes of retributive and restorative justice and how they are practised in your school community

    read about a proactive restorative approach in schoolslink restorative practice with Gospel values in the Catholic school curriculum.

    The courage to forgive











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  • Justice and Catholic social teaching

    Let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.

    Amos 5: 24

    The Catholic Church has been as vocal as the prophet Amos about social justice and human dignity. Our

    concern is rooted in the teachings of the Bible, but there is also a rich collection of documents that explain what

    we call Catholic social teaching.

    The following are some of the key themes of Catholic social teaching:

    All people have a unique dignity from God that must be respected.We must care for the common good of our world community, not just our own individual concerns.We must have a concern for poor people.We must protect the rights of workers.We must care for Gods creation.We must promote peace and rid ourselves of weapons of mass destruction.We must work so that the worlds wealth is distributed fairly among all people.

    Adapted from Break through! The Bible for Young Catholics, St Marys Press, 2006, p 1322

    The principles of Catholic social teaching provide

    a blueprint for how we can live more justly, share more generously,

    and act with mercy towards everyone.


    How are the principles of Catholic social teaching embedded

    in our philosophy, identity and professional practice?

    Consider the recurring Biblical themes of fall and recovery, loss

    and renewal, failure and forgiveness, exile and return. There

    is a clear pattern in the teachings of Jesus of failure, recovery

    and celebration for example, the parables of the treasure, the

    pearl, the weeds and the wheat, the lost coin, the lost son and

    the lost sheep.

    Let us quietly reflect for a moment and consider the good

    news from Matthew 5: 48:

    Live generously and graciously toward others, the way

    God has lived towards you.











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  • Activity

    Background information on the theme of justice

    and reconciliation

    Find out about the Christian approach to justice and reconciliation.

    Caritas social justice booklet Number 14, A justice that reconciles, is included

    in this package. More copies are available through the Caritas office or can be

    downloaded from our website:

    If there is not enough time to work through the booklet you could use the

    PowerPoint on this CD ROM, which gives an account of many of the important

    points made in the booklet.

    View the PowerPoint A justice that reconciles summary.

    Discuss the information and ideas presented around crime and punishment, especially in relation to what is

    happening in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Share important words or phrases from the Bishops statement Revenge or Reconciliation which you will find at

    the front of the booklet A justice that reconciles.

    God calls even the worst of offenders to change, and offers healing to

    those victims of crime able to find the courage to forgive.

    New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Revenge or Reconciliation, 2009

    Different notions of justice

    Western justice

    The focus of Western criminal justice systems is the judgement and punishment of offenders, whose actions are

    measured against the formal rules (laws) of society. In Western justice models, a crime is treated primarily as an

    offence against the state. So the state, through the police and courts, takes responsibility for, and control of, the

    dispensation of justice. Victims of crime and their families and communities are to a large extent excluded from

    the workings of the criminal justice system. Justice is handed down to offenders, and commonly has a strong

    punitive element to it, which may take the form of a prison sentence or a fine. Imprisonment is more or less the

    mainstay of the modern (adult) criminal justice system in the West. Prisoners are cut off from their communities

    and society, and there is little possibility for reconciliation and healing for victims or offenders.

    Maori justice

    Pre-European Mori justice was based on the belief that social responsibilities linked all people to their wider

    communities. Thus Mori society viewed crime as an offence against the person affected and their community,

    with justice requiring the repair of damaged relationships and the restoration of mana not only to victims

    and their families, but also to the family of the offender. Meetings of the affected whnau and hap provided a

    forum for parties to be heard, with decisions often arrived at through community consensus. Traditional forms

    of compensation included utu and muru, commonly but mistakenly referred to as revenge and plunder. In

    fact, utu and muru were about the need to restore social relationships through compensation and reparation.


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    A justice that reconciles



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  • Imprisonment, which arrived with the British settlers, was anathema to Mori, and strongly resisted. Another

    important foundation concept in Mori justice was the belief that all people had tapu, which should be

    acknowledged by other people.

    Biblical justice

    At the heart of Biblical justice are themes of redemption and transformation. Gods divine love, and its

    redeeming and transformative power, is intended for all people, especially sinners. This was the gospel that

    Jesus preached. In 1995, the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand stated that compassion, mercy, healing, sanction

    (where appropriate), and forgiveness (leading to reconciliation) were central to a fair and just criminal justice

    system.1 These qualities and features are captured neatly by the Biblical term shalom, which refers to the total

    wellbeing of a community or society. Justice is also seen by the prophet Amos as something transforming,

    when he uses the symbol of a river: Let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes

    dry (Amos 5: 24).

    The disproportionate reliance on imprisonment as the principal form of sanction in modern Western

    democracies does not sit easily alongside Biblical visions of justice, such as Amos flowing river. The New

    Zealand Catholic Bishops have gone so far as to say that prisons are destructive of peoples humanity, and

    that the tougher penal institutions in New Zealand are an affront to human dignity and a poison in the

    bloodstream of the nation.

    The good news that Jesus proclaimed, as foretold by Isaiah, included the promise of liberty for the captive

    (Luke 4:16-18). Jesus also challenged those in a position to condemn others in society to examine carefully their

    own conscience and practices (John 8: 3-11).2


    What other notions of justice do you know about that you

    can share with the group?

    What ideas strike you as important to consider as a school


    This statue on top of the Old Bailey, the central criminal

    court of the United Kingdom, holds the scales of justice and a


    1 New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference: Creating new hearts moving from retributive to restorative justice, 1995

    2 New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference: Bishops Back Penal Reform, 1989





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  • Understanding the attributes of retributive and restorative justice

    Retributive lens Restorative lens

    Blame-fixing central Problem-solving central

    Focus on past Focus on future

    Needs of victim secondary Needs of victim primary

    Battle model; adversarial Dialogue normative

    Emphasises differences Searches for commonalities

    Imposition of pain considered normative Restoration and reparation considered normative

    One social injury added to another Emphasis on repair of social injuries

    Harm by offender balanced by harm to offender Harm by offender balanced by making right

    Focus on offender; victim ignored Victims needs central

    State and offender are key elements Victim and offender are key elements

    Victims lack information Information provided to v


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