By John Dardis SJ, General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning
Restorative Justice: how
can it help promote reconciliation? The Covid pandemic: how are the great world
religions responding? These were the main themes addressed by Father General’s
Council in a special week of discussions from 16th to 19th December.
We were aided by Guido
Bertagna and Julian Carlos Ríos Martín who are both experts in restorative
justice and by James Hanvey, Secretary for the Service of the Faith.
Key insights emerged: In
normal judicial processes, the three main questions are:
Was the law broken?
Who did it?
What does the person
In restorative justice,
the questions are radically different:
Who is hurt?
What are their needs?
Who should answer those
happens around the meaning of the facts for different parties involved, not
about the facts themselves, for example a robbery or a murder.
Guido left us with a
question for reflection: which areas of my/our life and history are hardest to
enter into for myself... for the Society... and for the world?
James Hanvey led a
discussion around a variety documents prepared by Father General’s advisors for
inter-religious dialogue. The focus was the ways in which the different religious
traditions are responding to the Covid pandemic. The great religions of the
world are a social and political force as well as sources of spiritual
resilience and meaning. The religions too of the indigenous peoples also
provide frameworks of understanding and resources for responding to the many
different levels of a pandemic’s impact. None of the religions adopt a passive,
fatalistic approach but they all see in such crises a way of deepening the
sense of our common humanity, our place in the nature, and the responsibilities
we have to each other and the planet. The soul and the imagination also need to
be nourished and healed so that the true depth of human transcendence can
become a source of life and compassion.
don’t often have a chance to discuss the big themes together. This was a
special week: A week of grace, a week of prayer, a week of deep reflection.