Tuesday, Feb 14, 2023

Illinois Catholic Bishops Share “A Catholic Vision for Restorative Justice in Illinois”

Download the .pdf document HERE.

The approaching season of Lent is an opportunity for us to reflect on how our sins have broken our relationship with God and with others and yet also gives us a chance to be accountable for our actions, to both give and receive mercy and forgiveness, to restore those relationships, and to experience our own spiritual renewal. Restorative justice similarly offers this opportunity within our criminal justice system by bringing together those who have harmed and those who have been harmed, including families and communities, to participate in the healing processes of accountability and forgiveness so relationships broken by wrongdoing can be restored.

Therefore, as we prepare for the Lenten season, the Illinois Catholic bishops are pleased to share the document “A Catholic Vision for Restorative Justice in Illinois,” which is inspired by the experiences of our Illinois Catholic Prison and Jail Ministry Network – a statewide network of priests, deacons, religious, and lay people among all six of our dioceses who minister to those incarcerated as well as victims of crime, families, and communities. In this document, we explore how we can renew our criminal justice system, so it is focused not only on punishment but truly recognizes and respects the human dignity of all by being more rehabilitative, restorative, and healing and providing more opportunities for reentry. Transforming our criminal justice system to be more restorative advances the common good by helping to create safer communities and to heal all those affected by wrongdoing so they may have more hopeful futures.

We encourage all to read and reflect on “A Catholic Vision for Restorative Justice in Illinois.” Alongside all people of good faith in our state, the Catholic Church in Illinois is committed to work with the state to bring this vision to fruition.

We offer special thanks to Emily Cortina of Kolbe House of the Archdiocese of Chicago and Brian Hickey (formerly of the Office for Human Dignity of the Diocese of Joliet), and all the members of the Catholic Conference of Illinois’ Prison and Jail Ministry Committee, for their assistance in developing this document.