Justice in a Ministry of Reconciliation

We present the text of the conference on "Justice in a Ministry of Reconciliation" given by  Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., during  the Provincial Assembly of Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette at Orlando, FL. in October 21, 2014

The 2012 General Chapter of the Missionaries of La Salette asked the General Council “to declare 2015 a ‘special year for reconciliation and Justice and Peace’ in the entire congregation.” This annual provincial assembly is dedicated to preparation for that special year. Justice has been a central concept in Christian faith from the very beginning, but has enjoyed a special prominence in the last half century, with the repositioning of the Church in the modern world at the Second Vatican Council, through the first Synod of Bishops (which was devoted to the theme of justice) and the teaching of the popes from John XXIII down to the present pontiff, Pope Francis.

What is distinctive about what you as Missionaries of La Salette, along with the La Salette sisters and laity, are trying to do is to give concrete form to a ministry of justice within your charism of reconciliation. That is what I will be addressing here with you today; namely, how and in what ways work for justice and peace takes concrete shape within the framework of a concern for reconciliation. To do this, I will move through three steps. First of all, I will recall briefly the Christian understanding of justice, from its biblical roots down to more recent thought on the topic. Then, in a second move, I will relate justice to reconciliation, especially as it has been elaborated in recent years, as well as by you in your own understanding of your charism. This will lead to a third move, namely, what this might mean concretely for your work toward justice and peace as distinctively done by La Salette Missionaries. I hope that this will stimulate your own thinking and planning as you enter this special year for reconciliation, justice and peace.

The Christian Understanding of Justice

Justice is a central category in all three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is fundamental to how all three faiths look at God’s action in the world: God is a God of justice. Here I want to concentrate on Judaism and Christianity, and how they see justice, since the Christian understanding of justice relies principally and nearly completely on the understandings found in the Old Testament.

Two Hebrew words cover what we, in our time, would call “justice.” The first is sedequah, the more comprehensive term. It refers to the observing of and the maintaining right relationships in all areas of life: between persons, in the family, in society, in political and economic realms, and with God. Sedequah is often translated as “righteousness.” To live in such a network of right relationships is to be “righteous” in the full sense of the word. God’s own ordering of the world in his creation of all things is the framework of righteousness. God’s action and judgment in the world—creating, rescuing, punishing, rewarding, restoring—mark the concrete enactment of God’s justice, God’s righteousness.

The other Hebrew word is mishpat. It is about a more specific instance of justice, especially justice in its legal or juridical form. This is justice as the outcome of making of a formal judgment or the results of a procedure in a courtroom. Mishpat addresses relationships that have become broken or distorted by human actions, and need to be made right again before the community and before God. When we take legal action against wrongdoers, or enact reforms to re-establish right relations, this is mishpat.

But there is a third biblical concept that needs to be introduced here, one that provides a horizon for how we see right relationships and how we restore them when wrongdoing has occurred. This is the concept of mercy. The Hebrew word behind the English “mercy” is hesed, which refers to the unbounded love or loving-kindness of God. This sets the framework for sedequah or righteousness, where the right relationships envisioned by this loving God are made evident to us. And it is even more present in mishpat, the enactment of justice, in order that such making things right does not become vengeful or even cruel.

It should be noted that this understanding of mercy as the framework of God’s unbounded love for all of creation is different from the modern juridical meaning of mercy as used in the court system. There “mercy” means a lessening or even elimination of punishment that the wrongdoer deserves to receive. The biblical meaning of this hesed or mercy of God, rather, is one that recognizes the finitude of all creatures and wishes to bring us in our finitude as close to the fullness of justice or right relationships that can be achieved this side of heaven. This understanding of mercy stands front and center in the pontificate of Pope Francis, and is the lens through which he looks at all the issues facing us today.

It is indeed that fullness of relationships that marks the fourth biblical concept that comes into play here, and in the special year in 2015 for La Salette Missionaries; namely, shalom or peace. Peace is not understood in the Bible simply as the absence of war or conflict. Rather, peace is that state where all relationships are marked by justice and righteousness, dwelling within a horizon of mercy. Peace is the fullness of life as God has intended it.

The New Testament shares the Old Testament’s vision of justice, both as the state of right relationships and the means of redress when relationships are broken or distorted. It also shares the horizon of mercy. What the New Testament adds is testimony to how all of this is enacted in the life and work of Christ, both in his ministry and in his suffering, death and resurrection. In his ministry, the proclamation and doing of justice is already evident in what has been called his Nazareth Manifesto in the synagogue in Nazareth as presented in Luke 4:16-21. His special focus on the needs of the poor, his denunciation of the powerful and rich who oppress the poor, his proclamation of the beatitudes, and his compelling parables—such as those of the workers in the vineyard, the unjust steward, the Good Samaritan, and the final judgment—all point to the justice of God. All this ministry of justice is then brought together in the saving actions of his passion, death, and resurrection whereby all of the relationships of the world are set aright with God. And from this setting relationships aright emerges peace, the interior peace or union with God that the risen Jesus imparts to his disciples, and in that final, great peace we look forward to at the end of time when “God will be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).

It is this biblical message of justice and peace that shapes the Christian tradition. In more recent times it has been articulated with ever greater clarity in the Social Teaching of the Church, especially since the publication of Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum novarum in 1891. As already mentioned, it has been taken up at the Second Vatican Council, the 1971 Synod of Bishops on justice in the world, and the writings of the popes of the most recent period, from John XXIII’s Pacem in terris in 1963, through Paul VI’s Populorum progressio, John Paul II’s Solicitudo rei socialis and Centesimus Annus, Benedict XVI’s Caritatis in veritate to Pope Francis’ Evangelii gaudium. Almost immediately after the Council, the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace was created as a Vatican-level office (1967), and was followed by similar commissions being set up in religious institutes and dioceses throughout the Church.

The Christian theology of justice has distinguished between many dimensions of justice, such as:

  • Punitive or retributive justice, aimed at the punishment of wrongdoers;

  • Distributive justice, directed toward the universal distribution of the earth’s goods, so that everyone has what is needed for a dignified life;

  • Restorative or commutative justice, intended to give back to victims as much as possible what has been taken from them;

  • Structural justice, which strives to correct or establish social structures that prevent injustice from happening again and that assure just relations in the future.

One of the major ways of assuring the restoration of just human relations is work for human rights, first formally accepted on a wide scale in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and embraced by Pope John XXIII in his encyclical Pacem in terris in 1963. While lists of what constitutes human rights vary in some measure, for Catholics they are all oriented toward creating what successive popes have called a “culture of life,” a “civilization of love,” and a “globalization of solidarity.” Pope Francis has brought in this regard a new emphasis on the “church for the poor and of the poor,” highlighting the “option for the poor” that was notably first articulated in his native South America at Medellin in 1968, and is now acknowledged as part of Catholic Social Teaching.

Justice and Reconciliation

In the course of nearly half a century of focus on the role of justice in faithful Christian discipleship, many different angles and perspectives have been developed to give a fuller picture of the call to living a just life and to a ministry to achieve greater justice. Any religious institute considering the place of justice in its spirituality and apostolate needs to examine how its charism might call it to specific emphases in its vision of justice. In the case of La Salette missionaries, the centrality of reconciliation provides a vantage point from which to make such an examination of how the work of justice and peace might be undertaken more fruitfully as well as what pitfalls may need to be avoided. You have already been doing a lot of reflection on reconciliation, especially over these past five years, and I wish to build upon that here, as well as use this opportunity to remind us all of some of the central tenets of reconciliation. In this second part of the presentation, I want to examine some of the questions that have emerged in recent years regarding the relation of reconciliation to justice, and of justice to reconciliation. I will begin by sketching a bit of how to think about reconciliation in view of justice, and then discuss one potential pitfall often encountered, as well as one question that needs to be addressed.

First, then, thinking about reconciliation in view of justice: how do we have to understand reconciliation as it engages questions of justice? I would suggest that we need to recall that we can look at reconciliation in three interrelated ways: reconciliation as resource, as process, and as goal or endpoint.

Reconciliation as Resource

The Christian understanding of reconciliation, as you may recall, begins with the belief that God is the source and author of all reconciliation. “All of this is from God,” Saint Paul says in the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:19). Our work of reconciliation is as “ambassadors of Christ,” participating in God’s work. And God’s work is manifested to us in God’s design for an alienated creation that is being drawn back into deep communion with God’s own self through the saving work of Jesus Christ. Our access to God’s work and our participation in it comes through our participation in the sacraments—especially Baptism, Eucharist, and Penance or Reconciliation, as well as prayer as contemplative communion with God. Working for reconciliation requires more than good intentions and commitment. It is about grasping deep-seated, complicated, and confusing tangles of sin and alienation. It is about change for all the parties involved, a change that cannot come about if we all stay as we are and have been. We must find a source that is larger than ourselves, both to sustain our motivation and also to open us up to new possibilities. The work of reconciliation often comes up against an impasse or our getting “stuck”, unable to see alternatives. It is not as linear as our projects would lead us to believe. Ritual practices help us de-center ourselves, allowing us to move out of present time, either into the past (memory) or into the future (hope). Our capacity to see what has been overlooked, to celebrate the small victories, to task risks are all part of the work of reconciliation. We each must find the spiritual resources to sustain us in this most difficult work. And here our understanding of God’s work, manifested by the Father in creation and restoration, in the Son in his saving activity, and in the Spirit’s sustaining movement is the resource given to us.

Some people who struggle for justice find this too much centered on human interiority or on individuals, and not enough on concerted social action. The deeper truth here, however, is without this interiority of communion with God, the author and sustainer of reconciliation, the work of reconciliation can burn out, can lose it soul. For the work of justice to be sustained and to maintain its integrity, it needs spiritual sustenance.

Reconciliation as Process

We often focus our attention so on reconciliation as desired outcome or goal that we forget that most of the work of reconciliation goes on in a process. “Process” may be even too tidy a word for what happens, since it may give the impression that it is a clear, rational and linear project that has been set up. In reality, though, reconciliation always involves actions, practices, course corrections, setbacks, limited objectives, and partial outcomes. The image to keep in mind here is less of a river flowing with a single, coordinated current than one of eddies of water making their way through a delta.

But there are definable actions and practices nonetheless. If reconciliation is about building peace, one can see four distinct but interrelated practices: the healing of memories, truth-telling, pursuit of justice, and forgiveness. The four are not utterly sequential, one following upon another. They often occur together. One might add other practices, such as building basic communication and trust between the parties, mediation and negotiation, and the like. Our work of reconciliation happens mainly in reconciliation as process. These actions of communication, accompaniment, and building up that change relationships of all kinds are not separate from reconciliation: they are the very “stuff” of reconciliation itself. To think of reconciliation only as a goal implies we can jump over the hard work that goes into the healing of the world. To make such a leap is a very disembodied view of how God acts in the world. Likewise, noting the importance of reconciliation as process helps us avoid a mistake about thinking of reconciliation as resource. Reconciliation is not about fortifying ourselves with the sacraments and then going out and doing good by pursuing justice. That “going out,” that sense of being sent, is an inseparable part of the work of reconciliation, of our participating in the Holy Trinity’s reconciling mission in the world. The sacraments do not stop at the conclusion of the ritual or at the church door, so to speak.

Reconciliation as Goal

What has been said thus far about reconciliation as resource and reconciliation as process was intended to delimit considerably how we think about reconciliation in general. Most typically, reconciliation for most people connotes an end-state of peace (or at least absence of conflict) where the past no longer determines the present and the future. This remains a good description of the goal of reconciliation, although we know that in practice such reconciliation is rarely if ever fully realized. Focus on reconciliation as process is necessary. At the same time, however, we also need a horizon upon which to fix our gaze. In view of that it seems to me reconciliation as goal entails three things for us as Christians.

First of all, we must constantly remind ourselves that God is the author and endpoint of reconciliation. Ultimately it is not about us—what we do or what we can imagine for the future. The practices that keep us in touch with God as the source of reconciliation are needed equally to sustain us in reconciliation work. Put simply, we have to find the hope that draws us into the future that God has imagined. Hope comes from God, and an ever-deepening reliance upon God is essential for living in that hope.

Second, we must discover and celebrate the small victories along the way. We sometimes find ourselves in situations where there may well be no great victories. But there will always be small ones. Being able to discover them and then acknowledge and celebrate them is a way of resisting despair. It is discerning the traces of God in our midst. Discovering them reminds us not only of the nearness of God in times and places where God can seem completely absent; it also reminds us that perhaps the most important things happening are not done by us, but are part of a larger reality in which we participate. Celebration is ritually based; that is, we have set ways that allow us to come into touch with the past, but also feel that future that is reaching out to us.

Third, in seeing reconciliation as a goal, we attend especially to what is happening with the next generation. In cases dealing with social trauma, such as immigration, experience teaches that people who go through profound dislocation and trauma as adults are often not able to find complete reconciliation. It will be left to their children—to those who want to remain faithful to the experience of their parents but also who need to find a way to live differently in the future—to find the way to reconciliation Youth are a special vehicle of God’s grace. Our commitment to reconciliation as goal entails commitment and care for the future generations. That means not only involving youth in reconciliation processes, but attending especially to what they see and hear, and walking with them (or perhaps following them) into that future.

A Pitfall and a Question

This overview of ways of thinking about reconciliation helps set the stage for acknowledging one pitfall that often opens up in discussions of reconciliation and justice. It also sheds light on a frequently asked question.

The pitfall is this: Do we have to choose between justice and reconciliation? This is a question that comes from some social activists, a question that I have encountered especially in Latin America. In Latin America, it arose out of a misuse of the idea of reconciliation, especially in conservative circles that were opposed to a theology of liberation. It occurred also among those who did not want to look at the past. In the former circle, the relation between justice and reconciliation was set up in such a way to make seeking justice or liberation as being more about conflict, whereas seeking reconciliation was about communion. So it was posed in this way: Do we want conflict or communion? Which is the Christian thing to do? In the case of those who did not want to look at the past (I first encountered this in Argentina), it was voiced somewhat in this fashion. After the “Dirty War” there (1976-1983), there were those who said: “Oh, let’s put the difficult and ugly past behind us, and go now into the future together.” One has to listen in such instances to who is making such a proposal. It is quite often those who have been wrongdoers and do not want to be discovered or punished. Sometimes it is also the bystanders who should have stood up for justice but did not do so. It is rarely the victims who voice this.

From what has just been said about reconciliation, I think the response to these two proposals is clear. Justice, and the pursuit of justice, is not the opposite of reconciliation. Justice is a constitutive practice and part of reconciliation. Any reconciliation that tries to sidestep justice will be a hollow, empty, and indeed false one. As to the second question, the healing of memories, the telling of the truth about the past, and the pursuit of justice are indispensable practices of reconciliation, and no reconciliation can be achieved without those concerns being addressed. So avoiding the pitfall of being made to choose between justice and reconciliation requires a full and proper understanding of what both justice and reconciliation entail.

And now to the question, which often gets voiced in this fashion: Can there be reconciliation without full justice? Or sometimes it is voiced in a declarative way: There can be no reconciliation until there is full justice! In the 1990s, such calls were often heard from earnest voices in the World Council of Churches, wanting to demonstrate their commitment to the work for justice.

The desires that are trying to be expressed in saying that can be no reconciliation until there is complete justice are good ones, I believe. But they work out of some misguided conceptions. No justice is ever complete in this world, short of the Second Coming of Christ. After a social catastrophe such as ethnic cleansing, for example, we cannot bring back the dead. We cannot completely undo history. Justice will always be incomplete. But that is not a warrant for not pursuing the work of justice. Doing the work of justice is already a commitment to the practices of reconciliation. So this question carries with it an incomplete understanding of justice.

It also carries with it an incomplete understanding of reconciliation. It sees reconciliation only as an endpoint or goal. It unduly separates out justice from the process of reconciliation. The other practices of reconciliation contribute mightily to the pursuit of justice itself. Without some measure of healing of memories and of truth-telling, for example, justice can be a cover for revenge and retaliation rather than restorative work for both the wrongdoer and the victim. Such healing and truth-telling can focus and direct the constructive energies of anger that well up at times in people who are seeking justice and redress. Keeping in mind too that reconciliation is ultimately the work of God (as is final justice) can help focus the energies for justice as well. And as Pope Francis continually reminds us, mercy brings out the full range of the meaning of justice.

In conclusion to the second part, then, I urge you to keep in mind that justice and reconciliation cannot be treated as two alternatives or opposing tracks. They must be understood together, and key for your work on justice in the coming period is keeping that in mind, as well as seeing how justice and reconciliation might be fitted more closely together. And it is to that question—your practices of justice in a charism of reconciliation—that we now turn.

Practices of Justice within a Charism of Reconciliation

So what does a ministry of justice look like within a congregation whose charism is reconciliation? We have just explored how closely connected justice and reconciliation are. What are some of the concrete practices that flow from that relationship? I would like to explore two of them here with you: advocacy and accompaniment, and then apply those insights to two areas of justice ministry: restorative justice and structural justice.


Advocacy has become an important dimension of social justice ministry. By bringing to wider attention situations of injustice and the plight of those caught within the tenacles of injustice, a first step is taken to begin the work of undoing injustice and replacing it with more just relationships. Within the Church and well beyond, religious institutes have taken very visible and sometimes high profile stands in advocacy. I would like to explore here a little more closely how the practices of advocacy link with the practices of reconciliation.

To begin, advocacy is a practice of truth-telling, one of the four most important practices of reconciliation, along with the healing of memories, the pursuit of justice itself, and forgiveness.

Truth-telling is an important framework for pursuing justice. It involves at times breaking through a culture of silence that has grown up around unjust practices. We have learned how important it has been to break through the culture of silence that has surrounded clergy sexual abuse and domestic violence. At other times it is a matter breaking through a culture of lies. This is especially so in dealing with authoritarian regimes, as some of your Missionaries did in the Philippines during the Marcos era. The practice of truth-telling helps reveal the truth about things, a truth that has been hidden by enforced silence or distorted by cunning lies. Truth-telling may be called upon to clear the way for victims to speak on their own behalf—victims who have been rendered invisible and mute by a culture of silence or tarnished as enemies by a culture of lies. One of the outcomes of truth-telling is recognition.

Recognition has to do with putting a face on, giving voice to, and acknowledging the presence of victims. All of these—face, voice, and acknowledged presence—restore humanity to victims, both individually and collectively. Advocacy as speaking on behalf of others is not a paternalistic gesture as it first may seem, but rather is making a space for others in the public forum where they may be seen, heard, and accepted as fellow human beings who are suffering. Recognition is also essential to the reconciliation process; without it victims are not addressed and engaged as fellow creatures made in the image and likeness of God—which for Christians is the theological basis for human rights. As some authors have put it, we are doing three things when we engage in recognition.1

First of all, by recognizing, we acknowledge the presence of the victim and allow the victim to speak. This is part of retrieving and restoring the humanity of the victim. Think of this in terms of immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and also refugees. In the current immigration debates in this country, immigrants are treated as non-persons (a culture of silence) or as predators on the American way of life (a culture of lies). Recognition gives them names and faces, a voice, and accords them a history of suffering and struggle.

Second, in recognizing, we “recognize” in the sense of seeing something or someone familiar. We recognize that the immigrant and the refugee are human beings like ourselves. Although they may at first seem alien or “other,” they are members of the human family. Sameness wins out over difference in an important way that allows us to form bonds of solidarity.

Third, through recognizing, we have to “re-cognize” or rethink or re-imagine the world in which all of this is taking place. We have to think about the world differently—not only about the webs of injustice that have ensnared immigrants and refugees and the walls of exclusion that have been put up to keep them away from us, but also to imagine a different world where solidarity marks our relationships and the full dignity of every human being is allowed to flourish. In other words, to advocate recognition is to acknowledgethe presence of victims, to bring to awareness that they are our fellow human beings, and to realize that we must create a different kind of society so that the wrongdoing of the past cannot be repeated in the future.

Besides truth-telling and recognition, advocacy has a ritual dimension as well. That ritual dimension is witness. By gathering together in witness, we point to realities that the powers of injustice would rather leave unseen and not spoken about. The power of gathering in a demonstration to manifest a greater truth, or marching together as an act bespeaking movement away from an unjust situation toward some more just and new, is a ritualized form of advocacy that gets below the surface of things and touches deeper realities. Think of the annual Mass at the border fence in Arizona, where the bishops of the two neighboring dioceses—one in Arizona and one in Mexico—point to the division of the wall that has been erected by celebrating the sacrament of Christian unity. Or in a secular mode, recall the student protests going on in Hong Kong as we meet here in Orlando. Witness challenges the narrative of injustice that presents itself as the truth about things. In doing so, witness opens up an alternative space where a different kind of future can be imagined. As believing people, we need always to attend to the ritual dimensions of the works of justice. And as a congregation with the charism of reconciliation—reconciliation itself being a complex of ritual activity that tries to heal the past and build a different kind of future—you should be doubly attentive to such possibilities.


Central to the long-term work of justice is the accompaniment of victims of injustice. Accompaniment, while perhaps a more feeble word than its Spanish counterpart “accompaniamiento,” connotes a profound commitment to, and longer-time traveling with, victims of injustice. If we represent a different culture from those whom we accompany, then it is especially important that we understand and practice what accompaniment means to those with whom we are trying to walk in solidarity. That is manifested especially in two things we try to extend to those we accompany: safety and hospitality.

Safety is marked by an environment in which we feel secured from harm and where the people who surround us are trustworthy. Taking again the immigrant and the refugee as examples: the world they enter is alien and often hostile toward them. The familiar features of their world are now suddenly remote and out of reach. Safety creates a space where they can be themselves without fear of retribution.

Hospitality makes the space more than secure in a neutral sense. It makes the space welcoming, acknowledging the humanity of the immigrant and the refugee, and encouraging them to speak and to act. Hospitality is especially culture-specific, and should be attended to carefully.

Creating social spaces of safety and hospitality are fundamental practices of reconciliation as well, especially in setting the stage for a healing of memories. It functions equally as part of a ministry of justice, especially in its moments of working with victims.

Restorative Justice

It was noted earlier that justice can be focused around different processes of justice: punitive justice, or punishment of wrongdoers; restorative justice, or justice for victims in restoring to them what has been lost or taken away from them; and structural justice, or justice that changes some of the social structures in which we live, so that the injustices of the past cannot be continued or repeated. I wish to speak here of restorative and structural justice especially—not because other forms of work for justice are less important, but because these two modes of justice are especially appropriateto the justice ministries of religious institutes such as your own.

In speaking about reconciliation and your charism with you five years ago, I singled out restorative justice as a prime consideration for living out your charism of reconciliation already at that time. Let me reprise a bit of that discussion here.

Punitive or retributive justice focuses upon the punishment of the wrongdoer, which is the prerogative of duly constituted authority. A ministry of social justice can be related to such a form of justice, at least indirectly, for the sake of getting an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and providing some form of redress for victims. Restorative justice focuses upon the plight of the victim, and the relationship between victim and wrongdoer. It goes a step further than traditional distributive justice (which focused upon the redistribution of the goods available) by attending closely to relationships between individuals and communities, and by seeking to provide all that is needed to bring about restoration of such relationships. Methods of restorative justice are being used in the civil justice system now in some parts of the United States, especially with juvenile offenders. It is now being advocated as an especially appropriate way to pursue justice in a framework of reconciliation.2

Restorative justice methods are particularly appropriate in situations where people have experienced loss. Those who have taken something or someone from them may receive punishment, but the punishment may not address the questions that arise for victims out of the experience of loss. While certainly efficacious in juridical settings, practices of restorative justice could be applied profitably to situations of parish closing and mergers, as follow-up for victims of sexual and domestic violence, as well as in other settings where social change carries with it the experience of loss.

Restorative justice is a particularly apt work for a religious institute with the charism of reconciliation because, like reconciliation itself, restorative justice focuses upon the needs of the victim.

Structural Justice

Bringing about the change of social structures is typically a work that must be sustained over a long period of time, a work that entails mobilizing a great many people and resources. Efforts to change legislation at local, state, or national levels provide one example of this. Chipping away at entrenched racism would be another example. Intensifying efforts to address climate change offer yet another example. Effective work in this area usually requires building coalitions with other interested parties, a skillful use of social media, and overall good communication skills. While it can seem an impossible task, we have seen how citizen efforts have brought down totalitarian regimes in many parts of the world within the last twenty-five years. Religious institutes, especially those who are international in scope, are especially suited to the work for pursuing structural justice. The results can be seen in the efficacy of coalitions of religious institutes who now have lobbying groups at the United Nations.

Structural justice finds its place within a charism of reconciliation as one of the forms of justice that is concerned with building a different kind of future. As such, it is easily locatable within your own charism as a work closely connected to that charism.


I hope that what I have presented here makes a little more clear how the works of justice find a secure home within your charism of reconciliation. Pursuing justice is a constituent part of the practices of reconciliation. Indeed, looking more closely at aspects of justice such as advocacy, witness, and accompaniment all help us see how these give special contour to doing justice under the aegis of your charism. As you move toward the special year of reconciliation, justice and peace, it is my wish for you that you will be able to bring your work of justice into clearer focus through the lens of your charism of reconciliation, and at the same time deepen your understanding of reconciliation so as to overcome some of the common misconceptions of the relation of justice and reconciliation. Here, looking to Mary, through the lens of her Magnificat, her concern for the suffering of the world and its alienation from her Son, and her desire for greater reconciliation, we find a worthy guide as we make our way along the path to deeper communion with God, the author and end of all reconciliation.

1 Erin Daly and Jeremy Sarkin, Reconciliation in Divided Societies: Finding Common Ground (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 156-157.

2 See the engaging essays in Jennifer Llewellyn and Daniel Philpott (eds.), Restorative Justice, Reconciliation, and Peacebuilding (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

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